Today is National Poetry Day. So between Nadiya’s glorious GBBO triumph and my Twitter timeline being full of people’s favourite poems, I have not stopped weeping all day. When not weeping or consuming Happy Meals, of course, I have agonised endlessly over which is my favourite poem.
That’s missing the point about poetry though. It ebbs and flows with the contours of your life. I spent my pregnancies repeating ‘I am the ship in which you sail/Little dancing bones’, and it made the ugly days clearer and truer, somehow. It’s not hard to see little dancing bones inside little dancing boys now, either, only now they’re dancing on my head rather than my liver.
When Tim was away in South Africa I lingered around in a lot of Christina Rossetti, because if the Victorians excel in anything apart from game pies and moustaches, it’s wallowing in tortured love affairs.
Carol Ann Duffy for love, Thomas Hardy for loss, War poets for grief, Yeats for grandeur. Seamus Heaney and Wendy Cope and the grand old duke of Shakespeare for always and always. A poem for everything, for every part and every version of you, including the parts you’re not, not just yet at least.
For today there is this. I am feeling a bit of a failure about my own creativity and professional achievements – or barren lack thereof – but there were little happinesses exploding all through the day like sunbursts: the hard blue sky as we walked to school, the cold air, the big and small wellies piled up by our back door, the magenta flowers I planted last week, T holding my hand through the first fifteen minutes of Despicable Me, the heron we thought we saw flying over the trees, the bit in H’s parents’ evening where his teacher said he might not get all the letters in a story yet but he gets every last one of the jokes.
I am not sure grand things await me, maybe ever. But oh, this little life. There are green and hopeful things in it.
not to be in love with you
I can’t remember what it was like
it must’ve been lousy