Dear Colonies Covid Chronicles
I feel I must reassure one of last week’s contributors [Alastair Hulbert]. We are not gone – we have simply decamped to one of his neighbours. My (very) extended family and I are happily feasting on a fresh supply of sweaters. We are alive and well and still living in the Colonies.
observation and reflection:
how obedient we’ve been,
to cook, to eat,
but no one to meet
for a shared meal –
will this country heal
or shrink to reveal
the sickness ingrained
in the imperial past
and still infecting
the abuse to the last
in the queue of acceptance
and decreed in the dance
of politics and power
even at this hour
Week 12: 15th June: Expedition
On Wednesday I settle myself in my customary position on the sofa: books, knitting, phone within reach; water and biscuit in case of emergencies.
I set off on my expedition.
No map required; I am well-acquainted with the terrain. Or am I?
I pause briefly, forcing this familiarity to the back of my mind. I wish to be a proper explorer, seeing each new detail for the very first time.
Photos on the mantelpiece: savouring memories of sticky hugs, wedding ceilidhs, recent funerals.
Bookcases: lingering on spines of novels I’ve read. Plots fade, characters dwindle, fond feelings remain. They sustain me. One day I’ll return to non-fiction. But new novels beckon.
Looking up, I delight anew at the detailed cornice and note that the frail cobwebs have a beauty of their own.
Light filters through the window and the trees opposite bloom.
There’s more to discover tomorrow. Time for that snack.
sitting on the sofa
reading my lockdown book
(Anna Karenina if you want to know)
I was stung on the thigh by a wasp –
it was on its last legs, though
they’re the worst my mother says –
it may have been half-dead
but it didn’t half hurt.
I’m paying the milk
bill, folding a cheque
into the tiny
left with the bottles
on the stoop –
I never seem to
hear the clink.
‘Did you not say, prince, that beauty would save the world?*
The world in which we live needs beauty if it is not to sink into despair. The four horsemen of the Apocalypse are out and about – Economics, War, Technocracy, Destruction of Nature.
How is it possible to make sense of a world full of foreboding? How – in the face of the catastrophe of unbridled economic and technological growth, relentless war and environmental degradation – can we avoid a lockdown of the spirit and be saved by beauty?
‘I challenge you all now, all you atheists. With what will you save the world, and where have you found a normal line of progress for it, you men of science, of industry, of co-operation, of labour-wage, and all the rest of it? With what? With credit? What’s credit? Where will credit take you?’ *
*Dostoevsky, The Idiot