Blackheath, London, 2005
This recording was made on 12 November 2005, at a house in Blackheath, south London.
- 'First Memory 1: Baby' read by Tricia Nicholas
- 'First Memory 2: Child' read by Pamela Sheerman
- 'First Memory 3: Mother' read by Violet Brenchley
- 'First Memory 4: Grandmother' read by Lucy Sheerman
I could float for days on end suspended. Things move so slowly here. Ascending imperceptibly. But I am in haste, reaching further out day by day. Exploring our edges. The sound of waves lapping at the limits is always there at my finger tips. These colours are part of me now, I am growing into them. I hear your heart beat like footsteps. A constant, tethering me to you. Flying above the sound, into the night, I dream of a time before us and after. Sleepwalking into memories of darkness and the smell of damp. Looking up through an airey I look for light. Inside growls spring from the deep armchair and he sharpens knives on his leather belt. My hair is twisted into rags and I am lost in a walled garden filled with hollyhocks.
Here the scenes are tranquil, the eye wanders across submarine landscapes, rose petal soft. I watch the sun rise, fracturing into soft shards. The light is rarified. At the bottom of the sea we are dead, alive and swimming. Waiting to take a breath. Around me I see glittering flecks suspended and I reach out. Only time passes and they are out of sight. Floating farther away. A ray of sun penetrates the surface. Water glazes my skin. What does this sensation mean? Hands dappled - I feel the light shimmering against my palms.
I am visited by noises. If you listen carefully you can hear the sound of scissors cutting through fabric and a sewing machine humming in the distance. Voices, from distant places talk of red brick walls, parquet floors, curtains and the smell of cut grass, suburban suffering and urban pleasures. The stall selling onions and carrots. Steam rising from shepherd's pie, the thrill of battenberg cake, yellow and pink, wonderful coconut ice. The peonies and auriculas that will line the path, filling the garden with scent and the house with cut flowers.
Shall I tell you of my dream? -- how I longed for dry land -- how the pool spread as I stood on stage, a doll in a box, waiting for the sound of applause. Curtseying. And standing there I found I had come to dread this endless lonely walk ahead towards the company of strangers. That world was filligreed with detail: sand around toes, sandals tripping against the pavement, the terror of drains. A flash in the dust; sun on a glass shard. But without you by my side, to whom could I express this punctuation in the sentence of my walking?
Sometimes I wake up or I think I wake up. A soft glow lights up everything. The edges seem to have disappeared. and I wonder when the time will come to close the curtains and turn on the lights. I stretch my hand out into the twilight holding it at bay for now -- my thoughts are golden and my feelings are expansive. My winged heart beats. I will soar until my wings are singed. Light laps around the edges of this sky. A gentle heat beats down. Arms outstretched and fingers combing the air.
I turn back to the half light of whispers, gently murmured stories, almost indistinct. Running away from school, run over by a bicycle, the struggle to learn to read. Farther away, fishing in rock pools, watching him roll his slender cigarettes. Drifting back, I catch a word, a phrase almost, turn it over in my fingers, smoothing over the edges. I let it sink again to the ocean floor. It lies embedded, like a jewel. Impossible to hold on to a thought or follow its wake glinting through the waves. A picture postcard sunset. Dear mother, I wish you were here.
Sky sea blue. Floating without horizon. I am a precious cargo. I pass them like a sun rising and setting. The waves whisper their secrets but I am too tired to listen and they melt unheard back into the shore, dissolving around the rough roots and stones, the glistening seaweed and sand. The waves are silver beads, pearls of light foaming against the shore. I too will melt into the water; it laps me up, hungry for weariness, eroding edges. Cradled, I think I will sleep. The sky bright against my lids. Twilight will come soon and then there will be time for wakefulness and kicking and wrestling for space.