Wednesday, 13 July 2016

All roads lead back to you

I run a weekly writing group called Get Writing. I love it. For two hours a week, I hold it together for my wonderful group of writers and sometimes I manage to focus on something other than you. I get to remember that, even now, I am more than just grief.

I set writing exercises and try to think of things that have nothing to do with death or love or living but invariably, wherever I start out, I end up writing about you.

Today we were in the Winter Gardens and I asked people to focus in detail on the plants, as if we were artists in a life drawing class on a day out sketching. Almost every writer prefaced their reading by saying something along the lines of 'I tried to do what you asked but......' their writers' minds took them elsewhere - to ceiling fans in Hong Kong, to swimming pools, to fairy caves and lands where fibre glass elephants broke free to bathe in the fountains outside. This is what I love about writing groups: writers' minds will not do as they're told.

I told my mind to focus on the plant in front of me, just the plant and nothing else. And this is what I wrote:

In the rattle and hum of an underwater world, life spreads like wildfire: 
a squeak of pram wheels and a shuffle of shoes as people move under glass, like fish in a tank. 
And a baby squeals like a tropical bird on a breath of air while a child's voice says over and over, 
I can do it on my own.

The fire starts here at the heart of this artful plant. 
It thinks it is a flower though its leaves are tough like the rubber soles of shiny shoes,
splayed out like blossoms in a wedding bouquet, 
pear-shaped, bell-bottomed, 
pointing upwards like flames.

The outer leaves are dark black creatures, deep as ladybirds with tiger stripes, 
they lurk down low, so dark they are almost mud. 
Their tips are pointed like feather quills. 
If I spilled some blood and pulled one from its stem, 
I could write the truth right here, right now, scrawling words on pavement. 
I could make a murder scene of this haven.

On the middle leaves, the black has lightened a little to a dark green.
Orange veins streak across bloody tracks, blood orange, going nowhere,
melting into the orange rim, 
the end of everything.

The top leaves are the green of spring grass and fresh apples. 
Their streaks are tracks of lemon and honey. 
They know nothing of the fire that rages beneath them, 
haven't seen the darkness that lurks,
they don't know yet about the blood. 
But the fire is licking at their undersides. 
They can't escape forever.
 They are not blossoms, just leaves and the fire is spreading.
I can't do this on my own.

All roads lead back to you. Your presence and your absence streaks the plants. I write about what is there. And it is always you. I don't know what else to do but write about life and death and love.

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