As I write

As I write, on a bench in the Howff, an ancient cemetery in the heart of Dundee, I look up and see nearby – two small rabbits, nibbling the grass, oblivious of me, focusing wholly on their serious nibbling purpose . I love noticing things like that, and sometimes I also notice ideas, sparked off by noticing rabbits and other things.

In a way, in this blog, all I ever write about are sparks. Little things I see or remember which spark a chain of thoughts about what I know. Perhaps, this is because I’m forever quizzing myself about what I know. About isms, like  racism – which I’m against; or socialism, which I’m for; or, lonelinessism (take note of the date – it’s the birth of a word!), but it would take another blog to describe what it might mean. Or, something makes me think of a mystery, like the music of Bob Dylan, or the companionship of a cat, or the enigma of Time. (TIP: do not think about Time too much. Before you can say lonelinessism without stuttering, you may become lost in wondering about the Infinity of Time or worse, – you may wonder: could Time end?)

Some things are so mysterious that I am not sure if I know anything about them at all. Being alive. Being dead. Or, poetry – which I read a lot of, and write when I can, but it’s still a mystery to me. Moments captured in words. How? It’s a question too far, for now.

Strangest of all the sparks I write about are those times in my life when I feel I should know what they are telling me, but I can’t quite grasp it . Like – lying in bed, half or two-thirds asleep, and there’s a faint drone of a car in the distance, and it slowly fades away. And eventually, it fades away to nothing at all . Yet, it’s not entirely nothing. There’s a glimmer still there of the memory of it, a sort of echo of the car in the distance, forever fading…and other things fade into it…a million stars in the vast night sky above me…an old thought: we are all bits of stars…and, another car in the distance also fading…is it real or a memory? Is it a bit of starlight thinking it’s a sound? The sound of my breathing blurs with the night becoming darker…

And, just as I’m falling asleep, I wonder – will things get much worse or better in this strange new world? Is our future becoming clearer, or fading away?

Then, tomorrow is suddenly here. The clattering and battering of a normal, busy day, when hundreds of sights and sounds scatter in all directions; and you know only- there’s a lot happening and it’s all jumbled up. Fast Eddie caterwauling outside Boots , or in his moments of calmness , playing harmonica like a real Blues player, buggies and crying and shouting and arguing; and, one young woman kneeling by a pram to talk softly and patiently to a child who stops crying because he is noticed, and she wipes his tears away and he smiles; while  streams of people blur by: blurs of masks, new trainers, nodding and swearing; and some guy laughing as harshly as metal shearing; and other, softer laughing like small waves on a beach; and there’s young eyes above a white mask, old eyes above a black mask; and buses passing by full of shadow-faces – sullen glances, looks of fear, and looks of brighter hopes.

Quiet times also make sparks of their own, trying to tell me their secrets. In the garden, with flowers of every shape and colour bobbing around gently in the warm summer breeze. The flowers give me the impression, or I give it to them, that I could sit there forever. Then, my snail-brain, which takes things too literally, says : “No, you can’t sit here forever! It’ll get dark and too cold later; and anyway – I’ve got things to do.” But I can ignore that voice for a while. Stay put in a temporary bubble of ‘forever’. Walking around the garden, noticing- red and purple fuschias; pink begonias which have a sheen like aluminium; or, a fireworks display of  Michaelmas daisies – a silent explosion frozen in a flowery image of itself.

Before we believe in anything big – in an ism or a god or some fleeting mania, we believe in small things which may at first appear as vast as the universe. From the first time our unblurring eyes focus on a pair of eyes above us, before there are words to say “mum”, to the last moments holding another warm hand, human sparks sustain us. There may not always be words to say what is happening or only whispers in the night. Or, silent moments shared – of sunlight or starlight dancing on waves; or, staring out of windows watching rain  like memories fading; or shafts of sunlight on orange and blue flowers; or, snow falling on a small white dog, wagging its tail, almost invisible in the snow. How can such moments feeling so real and so like forever vanish so soon?

I don’t know. All I can do is try to find a few words to let me see a few of those sparks – at least one more time.

Harvey Duke

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