Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Wednesday, 16 September 2015



Shared dreams in the Morris –
snowbound and silent.

I saw you in silhouette
and I loved what I saw.

Illuminated briefly
I saw still further
and loved still more.

(For F.)

22 January 1984

La Scala GlasgowBy 1984 F. and I were a thing. No one knew what kind of a thing—not sure we did—but it was impossible to hide there was something between us. She, as I’ve said already, was still technically married and, at least at the start, I might’ve been too; I’d have to check the dates. Either way we shouldn’t have been anything. But that’s the trouble with things. They just want to be and there’s not much you can do to stop them.

We decided to go to the pictures in Glasgow, out of the sight or prying eyes. I have no idea where I got my hands on a Morris and I couldn’t even tell you what model it was but none of the images on Google look right. Suffice to say we drove to Glasgow—the La Scala on Sauchiehall Street (long gone)—and as we left it began to snow and heavily. About five miles from home it was obvious we weren’t going to make it and so I put the car in a spin (I must’ve been mad to attempt that) and headed back to the nearest settlement. So, technically (that word again), I’m not sure we were ever snowbound. We found a pub where it was obvious a lot of others had had the same idea and we waited on the snowploughs.

People write poetry for many different reasons and one is certainly to commemorate significant events. The events of that Saturday night weren’t the most memorable—we didn’t cross the Rubicon or the Delaware or anything—but they form a part of the fabric of my life. Most of the poems written about this time were never really written for public consumption; I, although I never realised it at the time of writing, was only ever going to be their ideal reader. I wonder if F. still has her copies.


Kass said...

I love the feeling of cozy, secret intimacy you've described in this poem. When you show emotional vulnerability, I love it still more.

Joseph Hutchison said...

A luminous poem, Jim. The marvel of poems is that they allow others, even strangers, to feel even those energies we think of s "private." This one speaks to privacies in my own experience. I'll bet F. has those copies!

Jim Murdoch said...

I’ve just written up the notes to the poem I’ll be posting on Sunday, Kass, and I think you’ll find them interesting. Am I an emotionally vulnerable person? I’m afraid I am. I present myself as an intellectual and I do definitely give precedence to mind over heart but I’ve never figured out how to turn off my emotions even when they get in the way. In fact all they ever seem to do is get in the way. Thoughts are difficult enough to cope with but at least they speak English. Emotions leave you to guess all the time: What am I really feeling?

And, Joe, I’m glad you connected with this one. I wasn’t going to post it. It feels like a very minor piece to me. more like a diary entry than a work of art. But what do I know? I see this time and time again, poems I think are inconsequential that others make their own. I have a poem I think of as “the Barry poem” because that’s how my boss referred to it after she read it; it perfectly encapsulated how she felt for this guy Barry and so it became (and will always be) “the Barry poem”.

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