Helpless to do otherwise, I follow Venus
around the Leighton Buzzard by-pass.
We have both been out for the evening.
But I am going home now: she strikes an attitude
hand on her hip, reflecting the light
of her little upstart sister, the moon.
(Who should have been in bed hours ago.)
She makes fun of me for heading home so early.
‘We girls must stick together,’ she says
as the night grows blacker and she glows brighter.
And it is true that now I cannot take my eyes off her
effulgence, her effervescence; she is more a danger
to traffic than drink or drugs when she sparkles
at us poor mortals like this. I want to go with her: I do!
‘This,’ she reminds me, ‘is not how you used to behave.
Once you’d have followed me anywhere,
any time of the day or night. Now look at you. Tsk.’
And she is right of course. But getting older
isn’t an issue for Venus. Compared to her
I am only an ancient gadfly, already a day old,
fading fast on feeble wings. And even if my body
still excited passions, was still excited by them,
I am reminded by my intellectual parts
that I have many things on my ‘to do’ list yet
before my light dims and finally goes out.
“And for a moment I found myself in a place that was neither the past nor the present, neither real nor unreal. Rothoron, my aunts called it. Probably you have been there yourself, whoever you are and wherever in the world you are reading this. Rothoron, the gossamer bridge suspended between sleep and wakefulness.” (From Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna)
My world is more hard-edged than that.
The sun never shines hard enough, here, to induce
this kind of dreaming. The land never shimmers
in that way. The best that we can do is, sometimes,
to create a mirage out of (say) the A303, so that it seems
to be a river, flowing, when actually it is a long, slow road
that takes you past Stone Henge towards the west country
with all the mystic glide of a brick through a window.
If it’s neither now nor then, not waking nor sleeping
but dreaming all the same, then it’s probably medication
that’s at the bottom of it. I call these thyroid dreams –
the only vivid dreams I ever get that stay with me on waking.
Sometimes they chase me into the enforced naps
I can’t always avoid. Sometimes they colour the whole day.
Sometimes pleasant; sometimes not. Unreliable, certainly.
You see, we of colder climes – we always know the difference between
the real and unreal. Britain is a hard-nosed place, that knows
the price of everything and values very little.
Gossamer here means spiders’ webs, blowing in the chilly draft
through the window, which wastes the expensive heat (compare
prices online now! Save 100s of pounds!! Beat the price increases!!!)
If you enjoy Rothoron, then you are seriously disturbed,
using illegal substances (and having far too much fun)
or really very ill. And if They know that you’re enjoying
Rothoron then they will come and make you stop it.
You see, it’s just not British, is it?
‘Per ardua ad astra’
(on 5 July, 2016 the space probe Juno successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit)
Juno left home five long years ago
to visit her turbulent husband.
She knew his temper
so clad herself in armour
She knew his silences
so sharpened all her senses
To pick up his least murmur.
Now she has caught up with him
in his solitary splendour
has hooked her arm in his
Now for a time they spin together
until he wears her patience thin,
Opens his arms and welcomes her in.