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Saturday, 8 October 2011

the universe spinning, savage worms and choreography

"His worms are savage" . The boy and two of his fishing buddies  climb back into the car, clutching a dirty looking sack, after a stop at the fishing tackle shop on our way to the  Heritage Park  where the lake is stocked with large rainbow trout. Today  is his birthday, and this is his chosen way of spending it, a long, uninterrupted day of fishing  in the rain that has been coming down steadily since last night.  I listen to their rusty , see sawing voices , comparing  the merits of various, obscure tackle shops, in the back of the car, where they are a tangle of knees elbows and long limbs, and I hope that the seedy looking bag , plonked  down in my line of vison , is not actually moving .  The boss, who is   partial to a bit of fishing sits up front with me. We have agreed to remove ourself after an hour or so of  fishing, and leave them at it, "because you dont need  to hang around mum, you can do shopping or something".

We trudge, the boss and I,  behind the purposefully  striding youths, along the track leading through the  tall  lugubriously dripping trees  to the lake.  The morning is cast in a greeny grey light and we could be wandering about in a fariy tale forest, quite  insulated from the rest of the world.  Coming here has become a ritual over the past few years on  the boy's birthday,  but in earlier years, the boys would take their forest exploring, playing outlaws  in the wood time , on the way to the lake, and I would  shepard them through the day.  They are already setting up the rods, when the boss and I  reach the lake and I leave her with the boys for her hours fishing, and head to the beautiful old restaurant in the centre, feeling distinctly in the way.  And having the peaceful coffee there is most pleasant, as I  contemplate the boy's growing independence,  advancement towards adolesence proper. The tricky time where you re not required till desperately needed, because they can and do take on the world, without having , sadly, much in the way of  judgement, caution , or common sense.  (Foolhardy)  I  feel ready for anything, in the peace of the restaurant redolent of coffee brewing  and calm.  Also I'm pleased  that the boss is with them.  Its one of  the few  places where she and the boy can share the same space.   I think it may be to do with the fact that there is very little talking involved.  And  it is true that I have come accross them  from time to time crouched together on the stair  landing at home,  caught up in a game with his carefully preserved collection of minature cars or lego, in perfect amity and co operation. 

When I go to fetch her for the "shopping or something" I am  mesmerised by the vision of the tall heavy young men, stock still, planted on the muddy bank, the rods an extentsion of  hand to water,   unmoving heads framed by the overhanging branches. Where did my little boy  go? And when exactly?   where that  child I glimpsed at six o clock one brillant summer's  morning ,  reading quietly in his bedroom,  fair head bent, absorbed and oblivious, as I descended the stairs for an early work start, for whom I wrote this:

                                          Morning Breaks For Him.


                      In downwards drift throught this sleeping house
                        my stray gaze pinned
                           by the golden child silent and still.
                             Morning breaks for him.

                      The blinding motes part to frame
                          (sweet) fool green and gleaming,
                              he, headbent and reading
                                 of warriors, heroes.
                                   He takes the bridge on the river Quoi
                                      singlehanded
                                         dreaming.

                        For him the bright sun burns, the dawn birds sing.
                        For him the brave day comes, the dark night done.
                        For  him the sacred myths stir, the world begins.
                        The universe spinning. For him. For him. 
   
                  

The boss sits beside  me  knitting and chatting, as we drive into town. She loves to talk and for me it has   become  soothing background noise,  like the warm hum of a large, kindly and superbly functioning  computer, computing nicely, as she does .  I tune in and out of it, which can get me into trouble  when she occasionaly requires a response.  I get the sorrowful enquiring look, like I'm getting now, as she realises I have NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION.  "No, sweetie, of course I was listening, just ah  run that last bit by me again?".  "Do you think they 'd notice if we measured the baby's head?.......I mean what size is a four month  old baby',s head?  Like how fast does it grow?.  Ah right, I realise where shes going here. The boss has taken to knitting with confidence, determination and creative flair. She has downloaded a knitting pattern for a wollen hat from the internet , and intends to bestow as christening gifts two brightly coloured hats on the two new baby girls who have come to our  extended family,.because its winter now and how many cute little babygrows  do they need?  And, like, probably no one else will THINK  its more importanr to KEEP THEIR HEADS WARM.   But how to be sure  the hats fit? And its a gift, so we can't ask the parents outright, and my lack of knowledge about relative skull sizes is most dissapointing, but we COULD  go visit,  smuggle in a measuring .tape tomorow.  COULD WE?  "  uh well...We'll see". Anyway she tells me her friends  would like the knitting pattern, and want to know where she got the wool. I could tell them that an exhaustive trawl through various shops was key.  The boss is thorough.  I  ask her whether she will share the knitting pattern, and she says maybe.  Maybe? This is quite unlike her, and on enquiry it turns out  she is having another pained episode with the said schoolfriends. She is almost always in a threesome, of friends, and periodically has a sad little tale to relate,of backstabbing,  exclusion, knotty misunderstandings.  I am alternatively sorrowful and enraged by these tales. I  rage on her behalf, much to her disapproval, because "you can't say that sort of thing mum , NOT ON PURPOSE , its mean."  "Be  mean!, be mean back!, serve em right"`I  disgracefully say. .  And I have to admit here that I never cracked the girl friendship bit when  at her age. Being the perennial outsider, I stuck , thankfully, with my nerdish  friend (we shared a taste for books) and steered clear. I found it  a hellish  and coundfounding puzzle, the business of female group dynamics, which only improved  for me as I got older (much older) ( and could pick and choose a handful of the likeminded).  I asked the boy about  this,  on one fraught occasion as I tried to comfort the first daughter, dumped by  a school friend who had promised to be her partner for the school tour  just the day before they were due to go  "when its too late to ask anyone else mum" . "Who do you sit beside on the bus darling?.  (he never never wrecked my poor old heart about this stuff  ) He  looked at me blankly before replying "which ever seat is empty of course, no one SITS BESIDE anyone...whatdya mean mum?" And there you have it, the entire trajectory  of female suffering, the excruciating  machinations ,unknown and unrecognised by the lucky other sex. A slight tweaking of DNA and a sweeping  male sidestep past the quagmire of female yearniing and paranoia to be befriended,   in powerless  bondage to the herd.  I have never wanted to be a man except in this.  (Oh yes indeed,  only Women Bleed)  However, the boss is a bigger  and a  better person than me. "I knew quite well that she was trying to make me feel   left out .... and  like sometimes we get on, besides it was obvious, and also it was  too silly to mind  and like I pretended not to hear but INSIDE ME I SMILED.

We returned for the fishermen, laden with catch, after some damp and half hearted shopping.   Again they colonised the back seat of the car, saturated with rainwater, giving of a mighty whiff of muddy river and fish.  The boss cocked an eyebrow at me as we listened  to the stories about the catch, the one that got away (and the one that didnt), the raucous jokes told  in lowered tones till they forgot there was women present, or the deep discordant voices segued  into a near falsetto  , on the punchline.   Neither of us spoke, her bland expression mirrored my own, but its surely a fact  that INSIDE ME TOO  I SMILED as I brought them all home in the drowned, blurred aroud the edges, Irish evening. And this  for the boss:

                                                      Choreography

                                                 Unable now to forgo
                                             warm vigour in a childish clasp,
                                                   my life become,
                                                    choreographed.
                                                    Time after time
                                               your hand slips into mine,
                                                     I dont look down
                                                      I'm reaching blind
                                                          to fond you.

                                               The clattering streets,
                                                    our winter walks,
                                                       that visit to my father's grave.
                                                Your hand my anchor,
                                                       holdsfast
                                                          a skittering heart.