Canines and Hijabs

I keep thinking how remarkable it is that a being with no audible voice in my life, with no tangible dexterity of any human language is capable of teaching me so much of Love. I am referring to Flush, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s pet spaniel who Virginia Woolf wrote a book about after reading the Browning’s love letters.

I watched many interesting talks today about Muslim women; whether the hijab is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ (Personally, I no longer believe in ‘right’ or ‘wrong’- just kind and unkind, happy and unhappy- these things warp and change day to day, but they do not pretend to be as monolithic and grand as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ try to be), about the visibility of Muslim women and what it even means to be Muslim anymore in all the lies and stereotypes we are fed every day for the ends of perpetuating profit, blood money.

Just in case anyone’s interested, here are the talks I listened to-

  • What does the Quran really say about a Muslim woman’s hijab? | Samina Ali | TEDxUniversityofNevada

  • What We Don’t Know About Europe’s Muslim Kids and Why We Should Care | Deeyah Khan | TEDxExeter

  • The Muslims You Cannot See | Sahar Habib Ghazi | TEDxStanford

 

  • The Muslim on the airplane | Amal Kassir | TEDxMileHighWomen

I think we should all try to be a bit more like Flush in these times when myth pervades over smiling at strangers in the street. When I watch my dogs on our walks, they never slow down to a pace of shyness when a new puppy lollops out on our horizon- my dogs sniff, they they circle and play; I like to imagine in human terms they would be saying “Hello fellow Soul, how do you do?

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The only reason monsters exist is because we make them. Which means we can also un-make them, and I guess that must start with ending fear. Understanding that each human, regardless and yet resulting from colour creed gender age etc ect, is a plethora of nerves and arbitrary intellects. No one is a closed book ending, we must stop conducting this society as if we are robots; we must think like dogs. I treasure what Virginia says: “Flush knew what man can never know- love pure; love simple, love entire; love that brings no train of care in its wake; that has no shame; no remorse; that is here, that is gone, as the bee on the flower is here and gone.” 

Today’s poem is by a Farsi poetess, Forough Farrokhzad- an Iranian modernist thinker whose poem ‘Born Again‘ is so beautiful and strong she gave me shivers, my arm hairs stood up on the tube. ‘Born Again‘ is rather long, so I didn’t want to include it here; instead here is ‘Gift‘… xoxoxoxoxoxooxox

Gift

I speak out of the deep of night
out of the deep of darkness
and out of the deep of night I speak.

If you come to my house, friend
bring me a lamp and a window I can look through
at the crowd in the happy alley. 

Forough Farrokhzad

‘A Life!’ ‘A Lover!’ not ‘A Life!’ ‘A Husband!’

I haven’t written for a while here, mainly because I’ve been busy with grandma again; differentiating Acers from Oaks, peering closely at Hydrangeas the colour of your tonsils and patting St. Bernards called Marley on Headley Heath. Of all grandma has treated me to recently, the apex of our country forays has culminated in my dream for a while now- visiting the homes of my homegirl inspirations. Charleston and Monk’s House, the homes of Vanessa and Virginia Stephen.

Walking the rooms Vanessa painted by hand, seeing the round wood dining table, like that of King Arthur and imagining what wine they had; the fuchsias scrambling up Charleston’s stone face for sunlight above glitterings on the green lily pond and all the sunlight drenching time’s past canvases in her studio made my heart beat in a welcomed irregular rhythm. It felt familiar yet screened, like spying through a kaleidoscope of history warped and retold through the footsteps and talk of others. I think my favourite part of Charleston were the pink guest rooms Vanessa and her daughter Angelica painted. Pale candyfloss walls and miniature seats, paintings of wild women on the wardrobe formed of harsh, sporadic black outlines for contour, with a pale peach wash for flesh. I could imagine my sister, Daisy and me sleeping there- peering at ourselves in the large looking glass wearing summer dresses and flowers in our hair. So romanticised and impossible I KNOW, but still tangible there- in her house of art, ideas and beautiful defiance.

Monk’s House was particularly resonant with me, I saw hopes in reality.  A humble cottage with a garden, a bedroom opening out into dawn- a writing lodge of wood planks where ideas flourished from Virginia’s mind, butterflies born of ink; their wings assonance and metaphor, a lilting flight. Her home was not so washed in pattern and paint as her older sister’s, but still there was intent- her mind was the cement which composed brick into animation. The living room was mint green, flowers in jam jars occupied alcoves and a special design Vanessa dreamt up for her sister adorned the chairs there. My favourite part was her bedroom though, modest but perfectly formed- like a snail shell home. Books whispered plot, unwinding breath on their shelves; a tiled sink sealed the deal of magnificence for me. The walls were pale blue, I know she loved Leonard, but her pain meant she needed space; I understand that pale blue. The only difference I’d make though, would be to swap the single bed for a double. I’m no good by myself- I’d want to feel the security that if there was anyone else who wanted to be with me that there’d be enough duvet to share. We could wake up to watch dawn over apple trees together, read my poetry books and drink tea on the same pillows then go sit in the garden. Either lover or friends, it is besides the point- this is not my story or house, both are Virginia’s.

I have no poem to post today, but I didn’t want that to stop me from trying to write. Instead I’ll share a quote from Virginia that I love, from her longest love letter ‘Orlando’ dedicated to her lover and close friend, Vita. I know to understand her life fully, to encapsulate it is impossible- but what I write is done with love. Love and hope and admiration, and I can only will that that is enough. oxoxoxoxox

” Was it then to be admitted that Orlando was one of those monsters of iniquity who does not love? She was kind to dogs, faithful to friends, generosity itself to a dozen starving poets, had a passion for poetry. But love- as the male novelists define it- and who, after all, speak with greater authority?- has nothing whatever to do with kindness, fidelity, generosity or poetry. Love is slipping off one’s petticoat and- but we all know what love it…” 

higgedly piggedly but alive

“I understood how stingy and cheap and arrogant and ungracious I had been. Because it easy to love and sing one’s love. That is something I am extremely good at doing. Indeed, that is my art. But to be loved, that is true greatness. Being loved, letting oneself be loved, entering the magic and dreadful circle of generosity, receiving gifts, finding the right thank-yous, that is love’s real work.”- Helene Cixous, The Book of Promethea

I apologise for my lack of writing on here recently; it isn’t a lack of passion or lostness that’s the cause of no keyboard clicks, just higgedly pigggedly feelings that make me choose wine in the late afternoon over routine. I don’t drink because I hate my life- I drink to unlock an oozy lump at the core, like a communion with this unknown animal with claws and feathers which governs the human.

I was walking my dogs today and concluded it is no whimsy or flaw that ‘God’ shown in a mirror is ‘Dog’. In fact, I would be so heretical as to add that sometimes Dogs are much much better than bookish Gods- Dogs lick you and jump at your knees when you tell them your’e sad; God sometimes just sits there, and the point they’re trying to make is that only through suffering can you learn. But dogs just don’t see suffering like that. They see it and act because it is kind to help when you can.

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I looked at the sky and it was a comfort. I wish I could describe it as I know Virginia Woolf could, but I’ll just use my own words now. I used to think that Jacob Ladders smouldering water in air as cotton-gold warmths was heaven claiming us; that the light was the congregation of wing and the push-up from soil thrown on coffins reverberating upwards.

I think I’m wrong. That light was power because it is giving, bathing us constantly but we only care when it’s beautiful and we see it. I don’t believe in the finality of give and take anymore- we give and get then give away what we got again. Nothing stays but nothing ends either.

 

 

This entry is a bit directionless (not pointless, mind). But we must go with the flow. I managed to work the till by myself at the charity shop. I no longer wring my hands in worry or pluck my hair from the scalp when boys I talk to don’t reply; no longer do I contemplate all the reasons I am wrong and not worth a 30 second reply. I sit. I read my books and dream of “A Life! A Lover!” not A Life! A Husband!”  (ily so much Virginia)

Today’s poem isn’t my own, but by Caroline Bird. It made me smile today and that sometimes is enough (thank goodness)

Megan Married Herself

She arrived at the country mansion in a silver limousine.
She’d sent out invitations and everything:
her name written twice with “&” in the middle,
the calligraphy of coupling.
She strode down the aisle to “At Last” by Etta James,
faced the celebrant like a keen soldier reporting for duty,
her voice shaky yet sure. I do. I do.
“You may now kiss the mirror.” Applause. Confetti.
Every single one of the hundred and forty guests
deemed the service “unimprovable.”
Especially the vows. So “from the heart.”
Her wedding gown was ivory; pointedly off-white,
“After all, we’ve shared a bed for thirty-two years,”
she quipped in her first speech,
“I’m hardly virginal if you know what I mean.”
(No one knew exactly what she meant.)
Not a soul questioned their devotion.
You only had to look at them. Hand cupped in hand.
Smiling out of the same eyes. You could sense
their secret language, bone-deep, blended blood.
Toasts were frequent, tearful. One guest
eyed his wife — hovering harmlessly at the bar — and
imagined what his life might’ve been if
he’d responded, years ago, to that offer in his head:
“I’m the only one who will ever truly understand you.
Marry me, Derek. I love you. Marry me.”
At the time, he hadn’t taken his proposal seriously.
He recharged his champagne flute, watched
the newlywed cut her five-tiered cake, both hands
on the knife. “Is it too late for us to try?” Derek whispered
to no one, as the bride glided herself onto the dance floor,
taking turns first to lead then follow.
-By Caroline Bird

Perils of hope

“I’ve been a romantic for so long
All I’ve ever heard are love songs
Singing oh-oh-oh, go on, I dare you…”    – The XX, I Dare You (from ‘I See You’)

I’ve fucked to this song, it seemed romantic at the time, but now the thought of being in such close proximities is frightening- a fluttering kind of fear. In fact, when I was in that ill-timed romance, I would listen to this whole album on repeat. Now all I can stomach is ‘Lips’, with its echoes and cloistered hopes. It makes me feel beautiful in my hurt at what’s past and my hope of repetition: that I am not a mayfly. I still haven’t brought myself to play ‘Say Something Loving’- the melody is too cruel for now. All I remember is what I thought young love was meant to be and then how disparaging realities cut our short known thread: first slow dancing to Eric Clapton and kissing his eyelashes when dawn scattered filigree patterns across our bodies in bed, then stood alone on the pavement- denied one final hug.

I keep thinking what I did wrong, because it seems ridiculous but so predictable to me that despite all the love songs I listen to, and all the sonnets and ballads I memorise the first boy to buy me pink roses should end it all with “fuck you”. I feel like a scribble of rose. I feel so sad and confused that it passes for my feeling alive.

I am being dramatic I guess. Too open and slutty with my foul desires- but I miss hugging; I miss feeling secure not with words but with touch. It was beautiful and primal, and absurd and pathetic. But it’s better than this, not that I didn’t partake in such sordid pastimes when we were together- I think that’s why he dumped me. I get sad and then I get drunk and then I get sad again; the cycle of life.

I know I have to be hopeful; but it’s the beautiful things that are hardest to hold. Loneliness has put up a barrier between the world and my heart. I wan’t to love it, like I wanted to grow to love him- but my lungs are filled with pesticide and the body is already compost. All I wanted was inflorescence, to see spectrum in bus windows and each millions of pores in my wrists dancing. The world as it is but seen; seen and felt to the ledge of infinity.

I don’t know what to think, relying so much on the whimsies of strangers; I am floating with motes and negative space and it must mould my home. To observe and take nothing.

Today’s poem I wrote when I still had florets of spring under my fingernails and pulsing flush through heartlines. I value my life to the stretch of my limbs, but it is so hard with this green light of Gatsby’s- the belief I can craft dreamings flesh.

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Morning poem

I did not see the iris move,
I did not feel the unfurling of my love…” –Anne Ridler, A Matter of Life and Death

Eyelids petalvein a light crafted birdsong in this morning unhampered by curtains-
His arms drawing closer, new details culling sleep.
I nudge old night sand into focus; no
dreams to report;
he kisses my angelsprout
bones.

That’s what lovers do-
fuck before breakfast, outwake the alarm and
be late for responsibilities.

I don’t care about grades.

Two mugs;
sunder statuesque sun in their infancy; unhunkering
corporeal heat, held in by shut windows
towards pale blonde slightness.
We both fold awake before the buses
will come-
we render primal intimacy;
he blows raspberries all over me.
I notice light motes small as
our toast crumbs painting his room
this day’s air daffodil.

I am learning softness-
“Farfalle”.
If dawn could undulate down in the body-
where would I feel it first?

Instincts recalibrate, reconcile those
hours spent dumb to news reels. He put
peanut butter first; then
strawberry jam like our duvet covers
on top- he is growing into
my small mercies.

Two mugs,
not one to wash up,
later on- we
tasted the same
sugar dropped,
silverspooned tea.

I’ll clean them whilst he coos
in protest.

Once upon a time…

Once upon a time there was a girl with four eyes and a button nose. She was brittle like the dried grasses she’d press between thumb and forefinger when wading through sunset lit fields; her skin glowing a soft pink mirroring the peach clouds and Jacob’s ladders. She was loud at home and shy at school, two halves of the same penny. When young she loved flowers and fairies, playing princess with her dolls and writing in her diaries. She loved her siblings and friends. But underneath all this familiar happiness, there lurked her fear. She did not want to let go.

As her legs sprouted upwards towards the sun and her fingers laced longer on wrists, the glasses she wore remained but something else drooped. Her wings that started with butterfly colours and sheen were withering in the cruel ceiling electrics of secondary school. Hiding face constellations with thick orange in attempts to please princes who really were hiding something too. She read in the library, and somehow the echo of childhood she so longed to keep frittered away into the holes of her blazer and silent bus stops.

This girl is older now, and she wants her wings back. She knows she drinks too much and gets distracted by fuckboys- but she is beautifully human. A choice is all we need, a choice for love and not sucking our stomachs so hard into rib-cages you gasp instead of laughing. It is not being worried that you haven’t completed x, y and z that you said you would today but smiling at what you have done. It is letting the dogs lick your skin without fussing about germs or anything else.

We all heal from the hurts we have done to ourselves, inspired by the ignorant cruelty of others in a myriadical and blooming ocean of rituals- I read books and write poetry where my brother draws superheroes. My mother rescues hens from factory deaths. We each are small, but so powerful in the realms we can control.

Today’s poem is from one of my diaries being 16- this is a message to the past versions of ourselves that we all lumber. M.G.B- you will be alright, there is nothing to fear xoxoxox

If Honey never goes off, then why do I feel so wrong?

Atonement- a way to
make everything okay again.
Nothing more-
okay?
Strawberry seeds of quiet
displacement. Inertly
pressing somethings,
small and sad
into flushed skin of this body.
Fluidity of hurt,
never ceasing to grow broken smiles
and awkward hands from
frail white blossom
every spring. Nectar drizzled
forgiveness is what I crave.
Who do I ask?
Bee keeper pain-
please make my mistakes
somehow right-
undone as the poppy
lolloped rain.

Friends and funerals


Come on with me and we’ll have a little fun,
It’s not too dangerous, yeah, and we won’t hurt anyone.
Yeah, we’ll cause some havoc between the birds and the bees,
We’ll paint the town red and we’ll shake the trees.
Oh, come on with me and I’ll show you a good time,

-Kate Nash, Little Red

Sometimes things get so polluted and overcrowded in my head all I can fathom is the inevitable pointlessness of us all and the millions of problems and suffering each person alive is in touch with. Acid attacks in London, ice glaciers melting and refugees sleeping on Paris’ pavements. This world stresses the fuck out of me, but I am not without joy or hope. Happiness always returns, in fact it never really leaves- just comes out of hiding, peeps it’s bedmessy hair from under the covers and smiles it’s morning breath cheeky and alive.

One of my closest friends, Daisy (aka-Tough Sirloin) just came to visit me and I feel so grateful to know people like her exist to help people like me. Daisy and me got wine-drunk then wore summer hats to go on the park swings in the cool night. We went to the museum- trying on Roman soldier hats and marvelling at Dinosaur bones. She brought candles of Orchid and purple; I got the drinks at the pub.

But of all the things we did together, I value us in my room; her elbows propped up on my bed pillows whilst I sit surrounded by a halo of photographs and old diaries on the carpet. I talked for a whole hour, and not once did she tell me to shut up. I read her snippets of my 5 year old numbers written back to front and at 17 thinking I’m falling in love. Daisy’s name truly suits her- she is the tenderest flower for putting up with my haphazard ways.

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DAISY AND ME DA BOOKIE GRRRLS XOXO

Today’s poem was read at my pets’ funeral, Tilly and Gravy this Saturday just gone. Daisy had never been to a funeral before, but I’m glad she was there to help us say goodbye. The poem here is about my cat, Matilda xoxoxoxox

A Cat’s Life

Elusive to the last-
when first we took Tilly home, she and Mog hid themselves
under the wardrobe;
Daisy and me cried. We thought they didn’t love us,
we were half right. She slept with her guts wherever
able, and ate and ate and ate. Matilda knew what to do-
keep calm and carry on. I named her for intelligence,
after the well-thumbed favourite Dahl book.
We all three share birthdays. Named after
cleverness, wit-
power. Tilly all these things, even if
we didn’t see it. Chasing mice in moonlight,
or sunning herself on our roof. Pleasure simply.
That is life’s call. Meow and mew,
we really love you.

Just because …

I’m not really sure what to write about, but I want to write anyways. I want to try to continue with this even when I feel bland and content with the facts my eyes process each second- because you have to. That’s it really- some things you keep going with even if seems like a scream in the dark.

Screaming in the dark can be fun I guess- like a game to see who will actually hear, or actually care once they’ve even heard you. It sounds depressing, and it can be; but that’s why you’ve gotta sit tight and wait for the silver linings to illuminate what you forgot again. We always forget, but the blessing is to always remember again and again and again.

Just because I don’t know what to write about, Here’s simply a little list of why I am so glad to be alive and exuberant and eternally budding and dying on this confusing and dirty gem of a planet:

1.) The look on my dog’s face and how their tails wag like protest flags when they see me put on my trainers and pluck on their leads ready for a walk.
2.) Those moments you don’t plan and will never be able to for how they linger on for no particular reason- making mugs of tea in filthy uni kitchens when the sun hits air motes in a 4pm golden wash, humming privately in odd socks.
3.) Dew drops on my grandmothers rose which she says opens out most beautifully; the way she calls me her “giddy kipper” and lets me get pints with lunch at the pub despite the fact it’s “un-ladylike”
4.) My loves, my romances minus the kisses. Flo being the human manifestation of how honeysuckle grows; makes my smiles twitch up at the corners by just only seeing. Zab and her boss ass bitch tenderest acts of riot along with Literati antics and sprees. Tough Sirloin and me, dancing whenever during the day, wearing our favorite hats in the bookie wing for absolutley no other reason than we are silly babygirls! My sister, with her outrageous banter and fondness for marmite and disciplined bitchiness.
5.) The fact I am free to read what I want. Dress how I want. Write how I want and fuck who I like (with consent DUH). I am free when others are not, and I have a chance to help others and help myself.

Today’s poem is about a simple and fundamentally important emotion/ action in life, I hope you enjoy it xoxoxoxoxo

Laughter

Sherbet tastes and
raspberry colours.
Exposing truth in the face
of grey Friday afternoons-
Exposing teeth. Side-effects include
aching stomachs, crying and
breathlessness;
the holiest malady.
A worldwide miracle-
bus stations, airports, supermarkets and
streets are all
drenched in this alibi of life.
We are all of us tyrants,
all hurting-
But listen, listen…
The people love each other.
The world is not desolate.