Monday, 25 July 2011


Sometimes I think about doing a Creative Writing Masters and how wonderful it would be: a year of writing, deadlines, workshops, tasks, inspirations, time. Umnn. It would be delicious, so delicious. I would make words upon words. But then I look at UCL and see it costs (£4,000 pa part time) and realise that this is not going to happen any time soon.

Instead, I have been contacting writing groups in the hope of finding the workshops and joining a library in place of learned tutors and setting myself assignments instead of waiting for someone else to do so for me.

Today I repotted all the plants and decided to think about dirt.


Out of the earth too long, my palms began to itch. I am tired of all this surface breathing. I start to think that maybe it’s time to scrabble.

Let me tell you about the soil.

The soil here is always wet. It’s cake batter. It’s toothpaste with a bistre stain, it’s thick, it’s gacky. I want to crawl inside. Arms up to the pits. Worms bumping blind against me. Wriggling my fingers, trying to reach the centre.

I think of closing my fist upon what’s down there. Maybe there will be the lazy femur of a dead badger, shag mouldering in the soil, scavenging long forgotten. A lost gold chain interlacing like smoke rings blown upon each other by a lazy tongue. Or a feisty oak root, curved like the handle of a cellar door, waiting for me to reach around and tug.

So: I pull. The door opens. The resting earth capsizes. Everything I am sitting upon begins to shift

and-then-all-of-a-sudden we are falling, like a teen queen talking about love-crushes, like a harlot on heels going head-over, like sunsets and autumn leaves and share prices and ink (on a blank white page which has been waiting for the words you have chosen)

we are falling, arms first, head second, the feet and tail waiting behind for a moment, considering whether this is or not the best idea, before the topple takes over

And then, it is quiet in the earth.

It is quiet down here. I can hear the wobble of oxygen settling in my lungs, like raspberry jelly on sherry-soaked fruit. My ribcage is the crystal bowl my mother used for trifle. My breath stops.

There is dirt in my eyes. When I squeeze my lids open, grains of coffee spill into my sight. Everything is tobacco, mahogany, burnt sienna. I see a thousand shades of brown, I see umber and chocolate and walnut and Vandyke, cinnamon and African sunlit shoulders. The dirt is a weathered terracotta roof tile on a cloudy evening in February. It is the unloved picket of an unpainted fence in a storm. Broken ale bottles in a school playground after hours. Brown.

I do not breathe, but the bouquet slithers through my skin. The soil does not smell like death. It is like the spray of the ocean but warmer, a tang of seared flesh. Fragments of blood and the sap of a broken green twig. A bite of placenta. And something beyond description: a jiggling something, a thing that darts and embraces all at once. It smells like a football field toppling over the Niagara Falls.

There is more to say, but I am snug and suspended in a pike dive in the earth.

Around me the dirt is composing symphonies for the centipedes.

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