I thought I’d dig out some of my old notebooks and transfer the scribblings and attempts at poetry onto my lovely new machine. So, the wicker chest my parents gave me for my 21st, which has since been carted from every terrible rented flat and house, is opened, and immediately the smell of damp, rotting paper suggests I can’t do the transferring soon enough. I can’t bear to throw them all away, but the myriad notebooks and diaries (all of them incomplete) are beginning to lose their magic and become dishevelled, yellowed, decaying.
At some point, as a teenager, I decided to record all my poetry in one little notebook, a pretty little tome, covered in chinese silk. It is here that all the beliefs I might be holding (that my best writing years are behind me) are destroyed. If it weren’t bad enough that the majority of my work is bemoaning the loss of affections from a boy whose name I can barely remember [that’s a lie, he’s a friend of mine on facebook], the rest has clearly been written with a significant amount of help from a thesaurus. The callous sand? The lavish wind? The brooding sea, that suckles like a baby at your breast?
It was about this time (Spring 1995) that, along with a long unrequited crush on aforementioned boy, I was reading a great deal of Thomas Hardy. The Brontes, also, figured high on my reading list. And that must be where this twee little thing came from:
The Murderer to Her Childhood Love
I love you. You love me,
but we can never love each other.
Yet I know the pain you feel,
when you see me with another,
because i have felt it too.
But do not fret my darling, do not cry
for we will be together when we die. (April 1995)
Others, some written during my holiday in Italy (holidaying with friends in Italy as a teenage girl – and what do i write? Utter drivel) are even more cringe-worthy. And yet. Did I not decide here, to just write and not judge? To not edit, reread, delete? So. A new angle:
Teenage me was a real cutie. I want to reach back in time and give her a gigantic hug and tell her to pull herself together and love herself more. Which is the advice I’d give any of my students today.