Friday, 11 March 2011

Virgins in my bookcase

It’s taken almost six months for me to remove the plastic wrap from my copy of Ian McEwan’s Solar. Such is my confidence in Ian’s talent that I’ll basically buy anything written by him without bothering to peek between the covers first. One of these days, he’ll publish an extended shopping list, and poor unsuspecting fans like me will rush out and buy a copy without so much as a glance at the blurbs.

I have more virgin books taking up space on my book shelves than I care to admit. For example, three of Milan Kundera’s works – they were on special offer, along with a copy of a Weight Watchers cookery book – stare at me like accusing triplets whenever I swivel around in my computer chair to look at my bookcase. I think I will have to relocate them away from eye-level.

I did try out a couple of recipes from the cookery book, but I cheated by adding extra cheese to one of the dishes, which rather defeated the purpose of cooking a low-calorie meal in the first place. I will gladly give it away to a good home.

Some of my virgin books were presents from friends and family who didn’t know that I already had a copy of their carefully-selected gift. I could never part with a book that has been chosen specially for me.

I also have a large number of books that were read so long ago that their storylines now escape me – born-again virgins, you could say.

If I’m to read all my books, both new and forgotten, before my eyes and my brain give up on me,
I will have to retire now.

Back to Solar.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Carrying my grandmother in my marrow

My grandmother

My writing has forced me to think about my family members at length. Yesterday, I couldn't get my grandmother out of my head. 

Visitation is one of my favourite poems. It's about a family preparing a grandmother for her own funeral. It gives me a warm feeling to think that my grandmother is being carried lightly in my marrow.

Visitation by Rosie King

We dress you in purple silk,
pearls in gold shells at your ears.

We sing to you, pray
to be led beside the still waters.

At nightfall, as we leave you,
rain pours over black umbrellas.

One grandchild, tall as her mother,
stands on the steps holding lilies,

her own face
wet with rain,

her own way of looking
into the night: free ...

you're free now,
she murmurs;

lightly, in the marrow,
she carries you.