When she came we painted her eyes with shadows. We pinched her cheeks until they ripened, and slicked on a clown smile with a bright honeyed stick.
We wove black ribbons through her grey red hair, and sharpened her nails with the roughest emery. We draped feathers around that withering neck and told her she looked like a film star from the forties.
She endured our ministrations with tight lipped patience. Too gracious to grumble, too refined to complain. Afterwards she’d nibble biscuits and sip sweet tea through the cockles of her clown mouth. Then, wiping crumbs away, would say ‘Now children, go and play.’
How do you weigh a house? The bricks and mortar, tiles and chimneys? No doubt those guards are weighty. Surely include the landscaped garden, its drooping flowers, and heavy seed heads? The shrubs, the herbs in pots? The ponds? The lolly stick crosses of long missed pets?
The contents are substantial. Soft sofas and chairs Imprinted with cosy evenings, tables laden with feasts, wardrobes full of outdated fashion, beds crumpled with comfortable passion.
Oh, and the books. The shelves, and shelves, of books.
How do you weigh a house, where thoughts expanded, where children left their giggles in corners, where the halls still echo with the stamps and slamming doors of angry love? Where images of daily living in the living room never fade?
A house where you can still find pine needles In the carpets of Christmas pasts, and there are still stars on the ceiling, stuck there on a little girl’s whim. Where hugs and waves and tears tarnished the front door after you said ‘I’ll be back soon’.
How do you weigh a house that is at once so empty and yet so full?
So you’ve passed. You swotted, sweated and swore, read, written, revised, composed, edited, edited again, met deadlines dreaded marks. Disagreed, cried. You almost gave up but gritted your teeth girded your loins, got on with it. And you passed!
She stood at the door and said ‘I’m not living, I’m just waiting to die’ She watched as the rain fell Onto bare ground And flowers grew abundant And the sun made them glisten The longer days came and went The flowers died The trees cried leaves While still she stayed and watched Then the snow came And cleansed the earth Spring returned triumphant And the flowers grew again And then she understood.
You may know from my previous posts that I don’t consider myself a great, or even good, artist, but I’ll have a go. Having said that this week is the first time I’ve picked up a brush since the beginning of lockdown in March because with no art group activities to keep up with, and plenty of other things to keep me occupied, I’ve had zero motivation. But the days are growing short, and everything outside is damp and uninviting so I thought I have a bash at some seasonal sketches. Ol’ blue eyes here started off very much as a pencil sketch and just got coloured in on a bit of a whim.
I have to confess the pumpkins were inspired by a (considerably better) watercolour that I came across on pinterest.
I always doubt whether I should share my efforts on here. I’m much happier sharing photographs and poetry, but I thought, given the season you’d forgive a bit of ghoulish painting!