Saturday, February 25, 2006

Still Day

Published on the Internet, August 1999
It's hard to believe, as I prepare this piece to reappear on the Internet, that it was as long ago as August '99 since I wrote it. At the time, I was trying to mend the broken piece of me that shapes words. Writing is like walking: if for some reason you're off your feet a long time you face a struggle to recover. I stumble every day.

Quietness spoke to me. The stillness of the farmhouse of an autumn evening; the loudest thing the tranquil ticking of the kitchen clock. Pots simmering, filled the room with heady scents of rich, warm foods. My mother, writing letters to relations. The dog asleep; the table set, the family not yet home, but coming soon.

Outside, the weather colder; fat grazing cows, cropping the last few faded clumps of grass before the first frosts put paid to growth. Now, the thorns were rich with sloes, thumb-fat, purple, bitter when bitten. Their juice sucked out the mouth’s moisture.

Stillness filled the empty spaces between their sharp barbs; black branches, bereft of leaves marking the passage of the year from this season to the next. Above them, the pale blueness of the dome of the empty sky pulled further away from the drowsy earth, its air dry, unmoving, infinite.

Even the streams bubbled low. Their waters gliding gently past the brown banks, through naked briars, eddying around twigs and leaves and autumn’s leavings.

And then, as the clock ticked on, the windows misting from the cooking pots, the dog rousing, listening, the latch of the gate would lift, and here his boots ascending the stony path to the house, my father home, with him his eldest son and daughters in the lane. Teatime conversation of days events, clutter cleared away and fireside waiting, waiting, for sleep and the darkness of night.

No comments: