I qualify as a reader as well – because I doubt if anyone will ever read these stories as often as I do – so let me kick the whole thing off with a poem I wrote 54 years ago that nobody has ever seen until now. There is something about it which seems relevant. How “true” do I think it is, 54 years on? I don’t know. How do you ever know what you think until you hear what you say, or read what you write? At the time I was into creating verbs and adjectives in the Germanic manner – the manner that we largely lost after the Norman Conquest and the eventual emergence of Middle English as a language that was a combination of English and French. To Middle English (over the centuries) we added a layer of words taken directly from Latin and Greek – which is how we ended up in English with a ‘ submarine’ while the Germans had an ‘underseaboat’. Anyway, here’s the poem.
The attic of my mind is open
arrowgleamed to the light and the
moted movement of air.
I come when it calls.
I spend a lot of time sprawled
on its carpets and cushions,
listening to reasons why I should
want to be who I think I am.
But in the basement of my brain
cramped in below stairs
there are cold corners
where no light lives.
Unstill shadows sit slowshifting
where no cat can see them,
never quite quiet.
Deep in that miasma before dawn
the entrails of my mind
And there, if I could see,
I would find a different me.
(Drawings by Veronica Cameron, a very dear friend)