Weak I let you settle in leisurely –
Every atom of my cold, weary heart.
Cigarette smoke whirling about
Ephemeral, doubtful and dry.
Fast-fading violets purple the sky,
They are obscured – a hazel drought.
Every atom of my cold, weary heart
Beating time – strident and out of key.
Cigarette smoke whirling about
Becomes opaque before I cry
Streams of fragrant melodies.
But why fight your discordant harmony?
Beating time, strident and out of key
Fear will settle in eventually.
Mornings…. I remember loving waking up in the early morning when all is quiet outside and hearing the sleep-heavy breathing of my family in the house. When I was a little girl, I would always rise slightly before the sun so I could watch the clouds change colours. Our landlords had a very large garden – it felt like a foreign, fairy land to me. I would put on my ballerina clothes, sneak out of the house and lie in their garden for a while, bathing in the soft colours of the dawn, after which I wandered between the climbers and creepers, lost in the scent of bougainvillea, hibiscus and passion flowers, to go and listen to parakeets sing from the tall Flame trees.
I grew a little older. The precious colours of my beloved New Caledonia became a memory I could only revive in the dreams that still haunt me pleasantly today, or in photographs. My new dwelling was far less magical – grey cars, tall buildings and forlorn trees…. but it had its own wonders too: imagining the lives of people as they passed you by, museums, echoes from strange conversations on the street and all sorts of shops and bakeries. Even in this then unfamiliar setting, I loved waking up early. That feeling had not changed – my family was still breathing heavily, plunged as they were in the depth of their sleep, and I would listen for a while before turning on the television and enjoying these moments of solitude to watch cartoons or to write on my mother’s computer. In the summer, I would to my granny’s to replace the colours of city life with those of the countryside. My granny is an early riser too, and one of my favourite moments was getting up with her and having breakfast together after we had taken a silent walk in the garden. There is a river in the back of my gran’s garden. In the summer, before the sun has warmed the earth, the air is quite cold, and very wet, always filled with mist. The flowers are bending under the soft weight of dewdrops and as soon as the day breaks, the mist flares up. It seems to sparkle rose gold and silver before it fades.
After our walk, we would sit together in the summer kitchen and drink café au lait with bread, butter and gooseberry jam. There never was much speaking – my grandmother would be reading the newspapers and I was most likely already daydreaming. If not, I did most of the talking – I am quiet, but sometimes, I start speaking and it seems I cannot stop rambling, as if the effervescence of my inner world had become too much to keep in. She just sat there in her dressing gown and gold-rimmed glasses, getting ready for the busy day of cooking and gardening ahead of her. You could never tell what she was thinking about – just like my dad, she never spoke about what was inside. But sometimes, a memory would pop… a little bit of German, the soldiers at school, gathering mirabelle plums with her sister…
I reminisce nostalgically about all these carefree moments… Mornings have become quite a different experience for me. I cannot seem to wake up – I feel stuck in slumber; my eyes won’t open no matter how hard I try and when they do open, my heart is pounding so hard from the anxiety that I have to close them again until I am calm enough to get up. I still love the morning though. I really do. But… the weaker I feel, the more sleepy and drained, the less I can fight fear – that true antonym of hope. It settles in, erasing the colours of the sky and drying out a heart wishing for warmth. And it feels like such a dreadful waste of time, getting up late… It makes me feel guilty and forget that I can change it. Because I can. I am not hopeless – I know the day will come when I can rise with the sun and watch him paint the sky again, like an old friend life has not let you see in a long time because, as my dearest Keats would say:
“The Poetry of the earth is never dead.”
– John Keats