4th May 2006 & 31st May 2006

The London Magazine - - CONTENTS - Frieda Hughes & John Kinsella

Dear John,

There were things to­day That brought you to mind; Your email in which You men­tioned your book about meet­ings In which we first met, My chap­ter will reach me Soon, you say. And in the gar­den Where I churned con­crete For sweeps and cir­cles of pavers To keep the flowerbeds neat, The sun blazed down Onto my bare shoul­ders And Akubra hat – the one I bought and wore in the Out­back. Sud­denly, I was stand­ing On the bro­ken red of the Gas­coyne, The dirty crys­tals at my feet, And the egg-balls of do­lerite That I dug up and planted in Wales To re­mem­ber deserts by, As if they would grow And mul­ti­ply. I remembered how The roos you spoke about Bloated in the sun un­til Their over-stretched skins Looked as if they might take off and float, Be­fore mag­gots make tun­nels and hol­lows To de­flate and des­ic­cate.

The life of a car­cass is cu­ri­ous; Nursed by wind, suc­coured by rain And baked by sun, it con­torts Through the var­i­ous stages of de­com­po­si­tion And takes on a com­i­cal fe­cun­dity, Fed on by meat-mag­gots and bee­tles As a mas­sive earth-mother. The shock of stand­ing In the vast wilderness that sud­denly en­gulfed Our one-acre gar­den, stung deeply, I longed to be back there, and safe, Where life is as sim­ple As a rot­ting roo And the need for wa­ter.

My ce­ment mixer and day­light Have dic­tated the halo­gen nights That I paint in. My life is now en­cap­su­lated In a book of forty-five po­ems For forty-five years, each one Be­ing only a glimpse of the tools That chis­elled me, not an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy With de­tails, be­cause each two-page poem Must tell a twelve-month story For the pur­pose of paint­ing these mem­o­ries – Ab­stract flesh to be­come An emo­tional land­scape of my life Two hun­dred and twenty-five feet long In forty-five panels. I thought That when I’d fin­ished I would feel The joy of fin­ish­ing, in­stead, It was just an­other day. I searched the over-stuffed In­dex in my head For the next task, and here I am, Ce­ment­ing pavers in.

8th May 2006

I’ve seen your chap­ter now, Where you have con­jured me up Out of our first meet­ing in Perth. I ex­pe­ri­enced a strange sense of dis­place­ment In com­ing face to face with my­self In the mir­ror of some­one else. Ev­ery­thing was there, in­clud­ing the hus­band, And just a lit­tle bit off to the left Or the right, recog­ni­tion of those mo­ments Caught in your eye, in your mem­ory, By your pen, writ­ing about me and my po­etry.

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