When I wake early I say to myselfVirginia Woolf
If I could catch the feeling, I would;
the feeling of the singing of the real world.
In the last weeks I’ve taken up, and put aside,
woodcutting, drawing, German. I’ve cooked
and painted walls and baked. Several weeks in,
I caved and made a sourdough starter (it really
does seem miraculous, the raising of bread).
Watched the lilac, then the climbing rose,
then the honeysuckle bloom. Planted sweet peas
and watched them sprout. I know I am fortunate.
Sat in the small, overlooked garden,
for which I’ve never been more grateful,
with a book unread in my lap, picking up
and putting down my phone, listening
to building works and the radios of neighbours,
staring into this fragrant, sunny, confined
space. I can’t settle to anything.
This is not the time to try Proust again.
I have found brief solaces in Boccaccio’s
Decameron: the people of fourteenth century
Florence spent the plague years holed up and drinking,
or otherwise abstemiously not drinking,
or they lived riotously in the streets,
no longer caring. A group – call it a bubble –
of noblewomen and men retreat to the hills,
to villas decked with broom blossom, and fine wine
for breakfast, and brief, funny, tragic, dirty stories.
I record sudden lapses in time, and languors.
I record the rose, the honeysuckle,
seeing Venus in the sky, at its brightest.
A week passes without my noticing,
and writing the date in the diary I record
my surprise that this has happened. Then
another week passes, and I do the same.