Temps Perdu

Still being signed off work, I’ve had a lot of time to dwell on wasted time, to remember things past, to go hunting for lost time. I’ve been writing some poems about Jericho in Oxford in the old days, which is unrecognisable from Jericho now (people pulling Dalmatians along on bikes past delis as my sister put it). I was thinking of Lucy’s Iron Works that used to loom over the canal (and where dad used to work), the smell and sounds of it, the glow of the furnaces, fearful and fascinating. There are luxury flats there now (not a Larkin quote – there really are) and the beauty of industrial decay has gone. I felt sad that I can now never tell my daughter what to look out for in Jericho and what those things meant. It would be more like a sad old woman’s reminiscence: “where those flats are there used to be…. In my day there were no bistros”.  I remember the student flats dad took us into, springs sagging from sofas, ‘70’s décor, books stacked on floors. I’ve also written a bit about the disastrous move to Cumbria when I was 11, the permanent damage it did like a bad storm and how it moulded my views of the world. There’s a poem about Swansea in there too and my time working for the DVLA in a high-rise in those strange years after dad died. I hope there’s some good in some of them.

I’ve been reading some of Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry, which I admire for its skill but find cold at times. I’ve been listening to music in the day and lots of radio. It’s funny how doing nothing leads to more nothing, the same way excess sleep leads to tiredness. I feel less tired at night always, even after a full day at work. I’ve been watching Broken, the Jimmy McGovern series – Interesting and hard work. I’ve read Mudbound; The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry; Brooklyn and many other charity shop books. I started writing one as well, but it’s stalled for now.

I’ve been attending to the bird table again with passion this week. It’s funny what interests you find when you’re not working all the time. They’ve had gooseberries, seed, bread, red currents, rice…. The robin comes every day and also now a song thrush. A pair of collared doves come down together sometimes. They’re always too quick for the camera lens.

I haven’t felt up to much, but this weekend we did go to Ennerdale Lake. We waited until late afternoon and the rain was blinding. My mascara stung my eyes to the point where I couldn’t see at all (and missed the duck and 8 ducklings). The lake was misty and the hills stood out like ghosts in the distance. I didn’t mind getting soaked really and enjoyed the pint in the Shepherd’s Arms afterwards. It was nice getting home to the wood burner and some rubbishy films on Netflix. Life’s still on hold at the moment. You think it’ll be like a respite or an oasis, but there’s no peace of mind without some certainty.

Author: kittydonnellypoet

Kitty Donnelly was born in Oxford in 1979. Her mother was born in Cumbria, of Irish origin, and her father was born in Newry, Northern Ireland. She has lived in London, Cumbria, Swansea and Chichester. She had poems published in Acumen in 2005, as well as being long and short-listed for several poetry competitions. She was also published in The Samaritan's Anthology and by The Forward Press. In 2007, she took a long break from submitting poems after having her daughter. In 2016, she has been Commended in the Southport Writer's Circle Poetry Competition, long-listed for the Canterbury University Poet of the Year 2016 and has had work accepted for publication in The Dawntreader. She currently lives in Cumbria where she works as a psychiatric nurse.

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