Year: 2017

Astrantia Roma | edge of evening

Solstice in three parts

A couple of weekends ago I went to Bath with friends. We were there to celebrate A-M’s 50th birthday. I remember, so clearly, trying to leave the house for her 40th birthday party, at a community centre five minutes up the road from our Colliers Wood flat. T was a little under two weeks old. I was sitting on the bed feeding her and each time I thought that she was finished & I would be able to slip out, a blush of pink would rise on her face, clouding to red & a curl of displeasure would appear around her mouth, before she again began to cry & I again began to feed her. Late, sometime after nine, I did slip out and felt all the strange vulnerability one feels out in the world postpartum, without an obvious pregnancy or a tiny baby to signal to people that they shouldn’t knock into you, should treat you with an exaggerated care and concern. I must’ve stayed less than half an hour. A decade later and …

elderflower blossom | edge of evening

Gone camping

It sometimes seems to me an enormous act of hubris, the planning we do for the coming year in those short December days after Christmas. But plan we do. Sitting on either end of the sofa, sipping coffee. Alone with a notebook. We talk of holidays and milestones; dreams and desires; the simple things that we would like more or less of in the months to come. They’re not usually grand plans. Some new meals in the rotation; early nights in January; a plan to spend more evenings reading or playing the guitar. Yet, still, I wonder if the Gods are watching. The small but persistant thought: just let us all still be here this time next year. That is the baseline, the everything, the true extent of my ambition. This year, we did make bigger plans. Shifts in the balance of our days; a move towards a more equal share in the work of home and the work of the world. And then we backed away from those plans, postponing but not abandoning, in favour of …

Of Woman Born, Adrienne Rich | edge of evening

Of Woman Born

I don’t know why I thought I could get away without reading Of Woman Born. Its canonical status felt off-putting; its age (it was first published in 1976) surely meant it would be dated, unnecessary. But still, it was always there. It was reading, and loving, Rachel Zucker’s Mothers, itself interspersed with quotes from Rich’s classic, that finally pushed me to read it. And, of course, I was wrong. Reading Of Woman Born, during long February evenings on the sofa as B played acoustic guitar beside me, I felt it cracking open the very ground I find myself standing on. As Rich writes in her 1986 introduction, “Some ideas are not really new but keep having to be affirmed from the ground up, over and over. One of these is the apparently simple idea that women are as intrinsically human as men, that neither women nor men are merely the enlargement of a contact sheet of genetic encoding, biological givens. Experience shapes us, randomness shapes us, the stars and weather, our own accommodations and rebellions, above all, the …

Postcard from last week: the weeks/the years

I think that the weeks are rolling by. Then I start to think that the months are rolling by. The weather is cold, mostly grey, and it’s hard to reconcile with the fact that it’s May. There are still flowers on the magnolia, hiding behind the soft flush of new leaves. The wisteria, which we planted last spring, unfurled leaves of copper-tinted green which were all frazzled in the heavy frost last week. The budding leaves of the hibiscus too are curled with frost damage. The lawn, each year narrower than the year before, has been bolstered by new turf along one edge. The other side is patiently waiting its turn. The new grass is growing thick and lush, several shades darker than the rest of the lawn. We went to France for Easter. Early one morning, I climbed out of the bedroom window & down the stone steps to the garden to go for a run. As I left the thick walls of the house my emails came through and I found myself looking at the Pip-Pop’s school acceptance. …

magnolia stellata | edge of evening

draft folder

September 2016 The idea is that by right living I might come to right feeling. Therefore: run three times a week even in the freezing cold, go to sleep by 10PM, write 500 words of prose a day six days a week, eat well, listen when the children are speaking, have sex with husband, etc.Mothers by Rachel Zucker November 2016 Hi. I feel shy. I just forgot my wordpress password, moments after my fingers hesitated over typing edgeofevening. I do think of you. Often actually, especially when I’m cooking & so writing anything down is especially inconvenient. I compose whole blog posts in my head. An alternative way of looking at this is that often, when I’m cooking, I talk to myself in blog posts. Anyway. Here we are: Thursday night & it’s already getting late & everything I wanted to say has vanished. This morning there was a frost & the rose leaves were edged in white, the last buds still closed. Today, Pops & I have written the invitations to his fourth birthday party. Big(ger) children have worked hard …

The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer | edge of evening

The Pumpkin Eater

A womb isn’t all that important. It’s only the seat of life, something that drags the moon down from the sky like a kite and draws the sea in and out, in and out, the world’s breathing. At school the word ‘womb’ used to make them snigger. Women aren’t important.The Pumpkin Eater by Penelope Mortimer I‘ve been doing a lot of rereading these past few weeks. Looking back at books I’ve loved & trying to  see them afresh, wondering always how they cast their magic. But one new-to-me book I have read is Penelope Mortimer’s slim 1962 novel, The Pumpkin Eater, now reissued as both a NYRB Classic and a Penguin Classic. It’s the semi-autobiographical story of a woman married to her fourth husband, an up and coming screenwriter (based on the author’s husband, John Mortimer) and the consequences of his infidelities and her focus on their home and many, many children. The writing is so fresh — funny and moving by turns — with wonderful dialogue and a great deal of space between what is …

swans, 22 December | edge of evening

Do you change it? Do you leave it the same?

Top photo: December 22, 2016; Bottom photo: January 21, 2017                         Do you change it? Do you Leave it the same? from ‘Mind Core’ by Juan Felipe Herrera   I went running last Saturday afternoon. I couldn’t go in the morning, as I have been recently, because of an ill child and because we needed to eat lunch at 11.30 to get another child to her extra ballet practice. It was because of the ill child and the ballet child that I didn’t march, a trip to London being just too awkward to fit in. I thought that I was okay with that, but as the day progressed — coughing child, breakfast, supermarket, lunch, hour-long wait in the car for ballet child — I felt less and less okay about it, until I felt very un-okay in a frustrated and angry kind of way. Which is where the run came into things. Chunks of thick broken ice on the boardwalk. Silvered grasses. Pied wagtail. Robin fluttering …

Hot Milk & Eileen | edge of evening

The female body: Eileen & Hot Milk

It’s up to you to break the old circuits.Hélène Cixous, ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’, epigraph to ‘Hot Milk’ by Deborah Levy So often with reading, it’s all about the connections. The secret conversations between one book and the next. And, blue covers & Booker shortlist connection aside, the two books I ended last year with had a lot to talk to one another about. Ottessa Moshfegh’s Eileen and Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk could stay up all night talking about mothers (alive and dead), fathers (alcoholic and abandoning), alienation, boldness, sexuality, and the female body. They’re also both compulsively readable novels. I came to Ottessa Moshfegh through her short stories which are fearless and physical and altogether unlike anything else. I highly recommend ‘Bettering Myself’ in the Paris Review (subscription or free trial needed to read the whole story). Eileen is set over a few days before Christmas in 1964 and narrated by a much older Eileen looking back on her twenty-four year old self and what turned out to be her last few days in X-ville, the …

Begin Again | edge of evening

Begin again

And so, again we start at the beginning. Maybe we even start a little way back, looking for the point where we lost ourselves in the pre-Christmas rush. Trying to pick up the threads of what we were thinking, what we were doing, where we were heading. Each time I resolve to hold tighter to that thread, but I think now that losing it — or at least setting it aside for a time — is all part of these years with young children. The trick might be to put it somewhere you will remember it; to pick it up again as soon as you can. So here’s what I’m doing: Waking early again to read in the still-dark house. (Solmaz Sharif’s stunning collection , Look, is making it so that I practically leap out of bed.) Noticing. Linda Gregg’s essay The Art of Finding is the thing I always come back to when I feel I’ve stopped seeing & so I’m doing my six things religiously. (“I have my students keep a journal in …