Friday, April 15, 1983

That day

Dad dropped me at the library at about half-ten and I finished off my essay, “The Plight & Struggle of Black Americans 1877-1914,” ending with stirring and pretentious words, “blood & tears” etc. I came home and spent the rest of the day slowly copying out a neat version (8½ sides, 2500+ words).

In the evening Dad, Andrew and I drove onto Keddon Moor. It was a superb evening, the sky unsullied apart from jet trail smears and a low bank of cloud towards the west. The sun glared at us until it sank behind the clouds, leaving an orange stain near the horizon. We did a brisk circuit of Ainsley Hill: the wind was icy cold and cut us through, making our ears ache. We had a look at the menhir stone set into an old wall not far from the trig point and cut back across the brown moor, the wind hissing at us through hummocks of straw-like grass.

Nearby a bleak group of enthusiasts flew remote controlled gliders and we paused to watch a hang-glider take off and hover almost motionless in the face of the fierce wall of wind coming up the hill, its great gull-wings dipping in the breeze, dark against the sunset. The pilot eventually made a leisurely descent and landed across the road down towards Moxthorpe Common. As we drove back home the moon was a narrow crescent above the houses. I thoroughly enjoyed it and took in my fill of the beige moorland until summer.

Just before bed I read some of Emily Dickinson’s poetry and this description of ED in a letter about a visit with Colonel Higginson in 1870; she patters in with childlike steps and thrusts two flowers into his hand. “Let these be my introduction . . . ,” she tells him in a breathless hasty embarrassed way and apologises: she’s not used to strangers.

It’s strange to think of her, shut away from the world outside, penning her weird lines.

“A word is dead when it is said,
Some say,
I say it just begins to live
That day”

Thoughts flew around in my head as I read these lines, but now I feel too full of restless anticipation to write and think more fully. The spell has been broken, and won’t be recast until I’ve settled down again next week.

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