Thursday, October 22, 2009

by autumn

Always summer has been for me a time of endless days when iI have no choice but to listen to the heat, and the heat says: It's too hot to do anything, don't worry, you're excused. The heat says : it's holidays (whether it is, or not - what would the air know?); the heat says: all you have to do is get through somehow till dinner, till evening. Surviving is enough. At dinner you can say to yourself: I survived.

As a child I'd lie on the lino floor, my arms the top half of a star so they wouldn't touch my sweaty body, my legs the star's bottom half. When someone came near I'd beg them to pour cold water over me. They came by less often. But occasionally they'd get a jug and down the cold would come. It'd be a shock at first, but within a minute I'd be tepidly soggy. Pour more over me, I'd beg. Waiting for water was the way I'd get through the day. It's very irresponsible, waiting. You don't have to do anything. You just lie there, and time passes.

That's become a metaphor of how I've got through the summers of my life.

But not this summer.

I wil hold to you, my diary, to help me no longer be that little star shaped girl.

By autumn, I ask you, my diary, to keep me to my plan:

1. I'll finish this draft of the "desert novel", enough to show it to my agent. I promised it last summer, but by summers end it was in thousands of pieces. At the moment it's about 100,000, still in ythousands of pieces. Though some days I believe they will join up.

2. I'll make a decent start of the libretto of "The Secret Cure" so that the composer who asked me to do it is happy. I've done nothing, but I haven't a clue how to do it. But that's no excuse! Do it- then you'll find out how to do it!

3. I'll tango every night, and improve my moves enough to go to Beunose Aires with dignity in March.

4. I'll row across the bay and back every day, from the angohera upstream, downstream to Mindy's jetty, and back. No cheating. Except at low tide, because I can't row in the mud.

5. I'll continue to love my friends, my daughter, Gordon, Sarah.

6. Twice a week I'll lie on the floor - there's no lino now, lino was too sad for me, I will never again live in a house of lino, people in my chidhood wept on lino, came apart on lino. I gazed across the shining squares of lino at my father with his gouged out eye, teatowel held to his face, blood staining its green and white checks and pooling on the floor. Lino, long afterwards, seemed to talk about a desperate family, a family with a psychotic mother, and an artist father whose eye had been gouged out, so he'd never paint again. But he did, till the end of his days. On his deathbed, after his second heart attack, he said he had to get up and go home: "there's a painting I have to fnish", he said.
There was a gap where his eye had been. I tried not to look at the gap, hating myself for not looking, for not being brave enough, good enough, to look at my father's pain.

This summer I'm going to become his worthy daughter.

At by autumn, I'll never feel again that I fail him by my indolence. By autumn.

At least once a week this summer I'll lie on my floorboards(never lino) and wait for someone to pour cold water over me, so I remember to be a child.


by autumn

Always summer has been for me a time