I knew I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to make anything this week and you’d think that, given my not inconsiderable experience, I might have had the sense not to bother. The consequences are predictable: a frock disaster of about 6 on the Scale of Mishap: not insurmountable but enough to make me disheartened and not want to see it again for while. This has happened before and my reaction always takes me by surprise: I have a raging urge to achieve something good. To put things right in my head. Immediately. I don’t moon about staring into the middle distance.
So, here’s a poem about being homesick….The Small Boy is away with school and I hope he isn’t….homesick.
I left them digging at Nanjizal,
hunkered heads bent together, hair straggling into sand.
The repeating sliced rasp of spade
and their earnest conversation still in my head.
I stepped into the cold water
and walked deeper in,
weaving through smooth turtled rocks, sand soft-hissing in the tide.
At waist depth I held my breath and dived and felt the green-ice shock
chill my skin,
felt the water slip away like skeins of silk thread.
I swam into the ocean,
past the sand banks, their caked peaks drying in the sun
and out into deep water.
I’m swimming home.
Past wide surfing beaches, specks of black gliding and falling.
Past talons of rock and
green felted cliff tops and
quiet, unpeopled coves.
I left Cornwall behind and swam hard against the swell,
lifting and falling.
Miles of sea and coastline and then
Anglesey and on again to the half-brine,
brown, wide open Mersey.
I slipped into the industrial water of the Ship Canal
and felt small against tankers.
To Salford docks where
I stopped in the quiet water of a lagoon
and saw journalists and broadcasters and theatre-goers and tram users and
cranes suspended in inaction
and cleaned up for the tourists:
awkward and uncomfortable
like being alone at a party and wearing the wrong dress.
I didn’t know which way to go until
I heard the children’s thin-reed voices calling me back….