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Sunday, 29 November 2009

If you have your head cut off, you remain conscious for several minutes after

I woke up early this morning. 6am to be exact. Pretty early for a Sunday morning after an exhausting week at work. But here I am, full of beans, and being all productive and active and writing loads of ideas and hoping I will get the time and the energy to do them all and do them soon. Because, let's face it: always working overtime kills the most excited imagination, and that's my new life -work, work, work- which I am trying to come to terms with, reinventing myself every single morning with also re-invented energy, which never seems to see the light of the new day, when the working week sucks me into its hollow spiral of running around the campus, teaching far too many lectures and marking, and preparing, and managing and administering, all that within a 50plus-hour-a-week marathon. My working week spits me from its insides on Friday evening. There is nothing left of me. A body that drags around the house trying to make sense of the free time. And then the chores attack. Life I've been putting on hold knocks on the front door. Breathing has been one of the supposedly innate skills I've struggled to master this last year. Something inside me copes with my current life by giving it an air of unreality. Life put into brackets. A waiting room for my real life. Then I read this poem this morning, Beheaded, by Polly Clark and, just after reading the first verse, I felt taken and drawn towards it. The poem belongs to the collection Take me with you (Bloodaxe, 2005) but I read it in Mslexia, an amazing Creative Writing magazine I'm addicted to. It also features an interview with the poet and there were two things that specially stroke me:

1) This is my actual life ticking away... It's real!

2) I'd read somewhere that if you have your head cut off, you remain conscious for several minutes after.

I quickly reacted this way:

1) Oh my God! There is not such thing as 'bracketing a life'. This life which is ticking now IS my actual life.

2) What would my still-conscious-head think for several minutes after being cut off my body?

I know, I know. It's a horrible thought. The image is haunting me in a sort of good way, I suppose, since it urged me to write this post (after months of blogging inactivity).

What can be done?

I am starting by erasing the brackets in my prose and the brackets in my life. Everything is happening now. I'm committed to baby steps. Because they are small and because they are playful and because they don't really know where they are taking you but are taking you into the right direction. After all, I only want to play. Forever. Because life is important and useless at the same time, which doesn't mean it's not worth living. Because I take life seriously.

I leave you with Polly Clark's magnificent poem:


I hear perfectly: the thud

onto linen, the strange gasp

like the cry of a premature baby,

just once and then silence.

And I see perfectly:

how my lashes scratch the light,

a hair glittering in shadow,

the winded hollow

where my lips rest.

I still have all my words.

I move my mouth,

like someone begging for water.

Fingers grab my hair

and I soar high above my sad

old body, slumped and tiny.

Tears of pity for it fill my eyes.

They are tending it,

the blank women in blue.

They are washing it,

as if they loved it.

Look, the people are cheering me,

look, they are glad to see me,

now that I've been removed

without a single word of protest.

Polly Clark

Take Me With You (Bloodaxe, 2005)


Revisionista said...

Wow! what a powerful poem & image!!

Here's to taking life out of brackets and making all your fabulous dreams come true in 2010!! :)


Sergi said...

Hi Vienna,
Nowadays in 2011 and after a year of your last post... I just hope everything goes fine in your life and your deep thinking and powerful writing are still fit!!
Veronica, a really touchy and, at the same time, strong post, the poem as well.
Best regards from Barcelona.
Sergio Gil

Sergi said...

Oh! By the way... The couple work and life used to be linked... There are a lot of kinds of works and lives, though. : ))