Things you do with things

Photo collage by BeadedQuill

The sun comes up,
the sun goes down, what
does the sun do in the 
middle of the day?

Answer:
It stands in the middle 
of the sky.

25/01/2020

I am preparing this blog on the day of the autumn equinox 2021. At 7am-ish, the big, white moon was still in the sky already blue with morning light. I took a moment to log the scene in my poet’s files: the sun had risen in the East, on the far side of my loft, while that white moon was descending to the horizon in the West, where I stood looking out over my Juliet balcony at the face-brick, 1930s tube station and that hovering moon.

In my online yoga session last night our teacher shared that it has been the season of a full moon and the Harvest moon. Paired with the autumn equinox, this makes for a time of review and change. I read somewhere else that this is a season for nostalgia, for stoking over the memories.

The poem in this post is a funny little one. I really wrote it in September 1989 when we went on holiday as a family to Betty’s Bay. I compiled, as children do, a diary of the trip. I found the notebook in a box of papers when I was in Cape Town at the end of 2019 and decided to courier it, along with a few other sentimental keepsakes, to North London. The little Croxley Exercise Book includes: daily entries; drawings of the animals and plants, a mermaid and the house we stayed in; a comic strip about a fight between my parents; maps; activities like a crossword and a series of “riddles”, this sun poem being one of them.

For some reason, when I read the riddle page (after reading about brushing my teeth – that resulting poem perhaps to follow), I burst into a fit of teary laughter. I know that as an eight-year-old I was not writing about the movements of the heavens, but the thirty-eight-year-old me imposed an adult’s interpretation. The other riddles are also amusing when read on multiple levels. (And the detail that each is followed by “Answer” amuses me, too.)

You eat rice with a spoon. 
You eat cut up your vegtabels (sensible spelling I would say) with a fork, 
What do you eat with a knife?
Answer

Fish swim, people walk, what do 
Butterfly’s do? 
Answer

Sun may come out and the clouds may 
come out what other two
things could come out?
Answer

Answers on page 25

The answers on page 25 are headed “Answers to pages”. For those of you who are avid Morning Pages (or general pages) writers, any “Answers to pages” would be quite the welcome find. Returning to the riddles, the answers are:

Oranges
Fly
The rain could come out or the wind. 

There we have it. Oranges are eaten with a knife. Butterfly’s (sic) fly and beyond the sun or clouds, it is rain or wind that could come out.

My time capsule notebook currently lives on my bookshelf between an anthology of Chinese Poetry in translation and Petra Müller’s “Swerfgesange vir Susan en Ander”. Perhaps one day it will have outlived its harvest and be sent to the fire (it deserves an end more symbolic than mere recycling). For now, I still page through those back leaves and note how much of that eight-year-old still endures, and how much has changed. Or, in this season of shift, it is to contemplate how much might need to change.

In the extract below I can hear my work email voice and the responses I now send on WhatsApp to a degree that’s uncanny. I still love garden spaces and need an annual pilgrimage to the sea. In this season of harvest reflection I wonder: how much are qualities deep-seated “for a person like me” and which ones need to be felled in preparation for a new season.

A little say about Betty’s Bay
Betty’s Bay is really a
lovely place; it’s got the
sea and flora which 
makes it perfect for a 
person like me.
I enjoyed the botanical
gardens the most.
I also enjoyed the
sea.
I am looking forward this
time and sincerely hope
I will enjoy it. 

“Things you do with things” is in Necessary Work, a forthcoming collection of BeadedQuill’s 2020 poems. In the meantime, have a look at Jangle between Jangle, a recent mini-book of verse written while jangling to-and-fro across London in pre-pandemic commute times.

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Published by BeadedQuill

Author of over 300 poems, also books, essays and short stories. Published in the Johannesburg Review of Books, Carapace and Type/Cast. BeadedQuill's titles are for sale via Blurb.co.uk

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