A 7.6km cycle at 6am isn’t really my idea of fun – but it has given me some precious quiet morning time, and for that I’m thankful. It’s been a while since I’ve been rowing, and have consequently avoided both the joys and frustrations of a team sport (and an outdoor sport for that matter, because it felt too windy to row). But above and beyond the rhythmic clunking up and down the river, the occasional early mornings hold a charm of their own. There’s something special about floating effortlessly along (it’s an happy downhill coast there) in the magical minutes of half-light, accompanied by the music of the dawn chorus – little birds singing their hearts out to greet spring mornings. The little children of the earth rise at dawn, and make quite a show of it, and I’m their humble audience. The music setlist of the rosiness-inducing, uphill pant back is also one of wakening; this time though, it’s the deeper rumbling of machinery, lights flickering on in the neat rows of houses under the unruly trees and their now-silent inhabitants, the scent of bacon-and-eggs wafting through the air.
The fresh morning shower, the steaming cup of ginseng tea oddly paired with a bowl of crumbly milky muesli, the feel-good stretch, the bundling up in blankets make for a cosy morning. A book would complete the picture, but there’s work to do, so I’ll scoot. (Sigh, what an unquenchably dreamy little spirit I am ><)
poetry is meant to be spoken, to savor in the delight of the “inner music of each line” – as the author of this article so succinctly phrases it. reading poetry on my own in my room is a peaceful nighttime activity, but so often I find myself skimming through the sparse words, 20 per page nothing compared to the densely-written textbooks I’m used to. as if poetry were meant to be understood in a glance!
was absolutely thrilled to find out, purely by chance (no Facebook event, saw a poster on the wall – what a tech-defying horror!) that Alice Oswald is gonna be coming to Cambridge to give a lecture-reading of her book Falling Awake :) :)
being read a book to – and I don’t mean lectured to – brings to mind childhood. seated on the sofa, tucked in bed, the suspense, the inability to skip to the end, the impatience, hanging on to every ephemeral word (which lingered a fraction of a second in the air before those sound waves were extinguished forever). I wonder what being read to will be like, 15 years later.
shall update this post later.
“Oswald steps bravely to the task, and with an insistent care for the sounds we have become deaf to, writes to convince us that there is still a language for the shock of being alive.”
26 days into the new year, and I finally snatch a moment to sit and write.
It’s a significant year for me, this – I’m turning 21. 21! What does it mean to be 21 anyway?
Leaving the sanctuary of teenagerdom at last, entering the Early Twenties. Twenties, not twenty; saying hello to that ‘y’-suffix for the first time last year, and as it passes, readying myself to greet it every decade now. 20 was that sort of awkward transition year where you got to choose how young or old you’d like to be – where crying “I was just a teenager a few months ago anyway” as plans fell apart around you, was as legitimate as staring down the injustices of youth boldly declaring “I’ll be 21 in a few months – just you wait!”.
At 21, you get no such luxury. You’re a member of the Twenties now, and no one’s going to let you forget that. I just wonder when you’re supposed to start to feel like a proper Grown-Up. As humans, we enjoy the longest period of childhood, growth and protection before ‘maturity’. It’s evolutionarily unique and it’s supposed to make us extra prepared for when we have to fend for ourselves at last. But this long childhood does have the effect of blurring the line between reliance and independence – some people grow up at 18, others at 25, (and some, not at all?).
So when does the mantle of youth slip off? When does adulthood come to rest – with grand finality and solemn ceremony – on your bare shoulders, shoulders which have been preparing for this moment for years and years? Does it happen imperceptibly, with each seam of old fabric unravelling, knitting itself into the new one till one day, you realise that a familiar but different cloak wraps around you? Or does it happen one fateful day, one destined moment, blinding you like lightning and when your eyes clear there it is, there it is. your first pay cheque, you clutching at it with sweaty palms; a silver ring, you nodding with a lump in your throat; keys to a house worth half your life and then some; your very own tiny human being…
outside, the sun slips below the horizon, dusk in the library spurring a great push – that second-last paragraph, that final equation, the last-ditch attempt at a half-decent, one-and-a-half-page summary of my life so someone in the world will adopt the adult me. till then, i float untethered, neither here nor there, humming a tune, hugging my cloak.
i think i should write more this year.
I walk back tonight, head tilted up, with the widest grin on my face, because the sky is full of stars. And though it’s -3 degrees out, I’m warm inside, fully sated, and lost in the wonder of a twinkling sky. I trip and stumble – the pebbly floor unsympathetic to travelers with their heads in the clouds. But I spot Orion’s elusive sword shining; Betelgeuse’s distinct orange-red supergiantness; another planet’s steady light; the Big Dipper peeking out from behind some trees, and a laugh bubbles out. Everything is okay. Everything will be okay.
Someone steps onto my path. Head down, steps hurried, world of his own. Five more steps and he’d be under bricks, blinded by the lights, away from the sights. “Wait, look – the sky is clear tonight; the stars are out! And it’ll be the last clear night of this week…” I open my mouth but my voice catches in my throat, even in my head it trails off lamely. “He’s got somewhere to go and you’re just standing here,” the Voice chides.
From afar you could see the indecision on her face fade away. It’s cold, the spell is broken, and it’s too much effort to gather its faintly-glowing pieces. A quick shake, and she walks purposefully to the bricks. Last glance at the sky and she’s gone.
-my thoughts sometimes converge in poetry
This will be my dedicated poetry and short prose blog from now on!
I decided to separate it for neatness, clarity, and so people who just want poetry won’t have to sieve through my myriad of uninspired ramblings and half-finished thoughts on this blog. And also because I want to collate and share poetry which inspires me. :)
I’ll still be posting poetry here, but head there for a solid fill of artfully-crafted written word. Both mine (probably not that artful) and those of famous poets (definitely very artful). For better or for worse, I usually write only when the impulse strikes, so I’ll do my best to update regularly – disclaimer: my definition – but no guarantees! I do so love to write though, and I keep a paper book to pen down stray, occasionally promising thoughts. So I might stick those up rather more frequently.
Note of warning: that is actually converted from an old science-poetry blog of mine… so to save me some embarrassed winces, you might want to steer clear of the older poems… alternatively, go if you sorely need a chuckle, or need to produce an eyebrowsraised-headshaking-dignified-incredulous-look-of-alarm on demand. I keep them there purely for those purposes. You’re most welcome.
See you there!
standing rigidly, moving fluidly,
knuckles smarting, muscles burning,
a thud, a groan
staring up from the floor-
his gaze unyielding.
the held breath, the release,
elegant storm breaking,
a wince, reflex, regret-
her glare defiant.
They watch, curious-
As she learnt hurt to stay safe,
Wore bruises to seem strong,
So she wouldn’t stare up again
-in helpless horror