Friday, 7 December 2012

Visible Dreariness


Are you ok? 

I feel like I’ve been neglecting you. I haven’t been up to much. Just a whistle stop tour from Paradise Lost to Omeros and 5000 words that will never see the light of day again. A week’s worth of angst printed, doubled-sided, to end up in a pile in a box in a cupboard with the rest of my undergraduate work. With it, no more Waxwings and nothing much of interest for you. For me, I walked the road from Cambuskenneth at night with the threat of snow. The sky above Edinburgh burns at night. You can see the orange stain from here; Grangemouth is just a smudge; the Hillfoots are a necklace of streetlights; cars race down here and the path is treacherous underfoot. There can be an even more treacherous beauty in pollution. Nothing quite compares to a clear night: the moon out lamping stars. Play connect the dots. Orion’s belt. The Plough. Polaris. Head back until your neck hurts. Dizzy. Not because of the endless mystery of the night sky, just it’s cold and my inept circulation. Geese heading to roost on the Forth after dark, cackle in the night. The moon is never quite bright enough to lamp them.
It did eventually snow. I woke up and saw the geese going the wrong way: as if they’d come up the Forth, found the carse in ermine and thought better of it. The loch mostly iced up; variations on grey and white, whilst a peachy drake Goosander bobs blissfully amidst the Mallards it tries to mate with in spring. A floating duck has a kind of zen, the zen that comes with not having to write essays and a timetable of eat, sleep, hybridise. I saw six from the bus the other day, floating in the Forth.

This is the life of the almost finished student. The apathy of a job mostly done, so let’s not try to think about it anymore. More books to read, a meeting to attend. Birds are still there at the fringes of life, they never leave. Wordsworth could wring a transcendence out of this. His visionary dreariness. It’s a phrase I love but that turkey’s neck has been well wrung by now. I’m counting days until I head home again, when the nature/life balance becomes more correctly skewed towards nature.

And in lieu of having an actual bird photo to put here, this is a sign at the university library, my new home.

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