Day 65

5.04: Fourteen There Before Light entries ago, I waxed whimsical about the only poem ever to make me cry. I said that I perversely liked being made to cry by a poem, and wondered if there were any more that could pull off the trick.

There are. Christopher Reid‘s written them by the sockful.

I started reading his (deservedly) Costa-Prize-winning book A Scattering last week, and finished it yesterday. The first poem had reduced me to a snivelling ball of plasticine in a bookshop; I’d got snot on the pages so thought I’d probably better pay for the thing and sneak away.

I read the second over lunch, and wept in a Pret A Manger. Then I decided I’d probably abased myself enough for one afternoon, and tucked the thing discretely into my pocket.

For those who aren’t familiar, A Scattering is an account of the illness and death of Reid’s wife Lucinda Gane from sarcoma and his grieving. But it’s better by a street and a half than that makes it sound: confessional but never self-absorbed, frank and full of jokes.

The next day, I sat in a park and snorted a great bubble of snot (it’s a snot-heavy post) into my salad.

On Day 51, I asked myself, did the first poem catch me at a particularly vulnerable moment. Without wanting to dampen my enthusiasm for Reid, I think he must have done.

I’m guessing this because the last thing before him to make me cry had been Football Focus on BBC1 a few days earlier. Admittedly it was an item about referee Mark Halsey’s fight against lymphoma, but here’s something odd: it wasn’t the stuff about death and disease that upset me. It was the way he described getting the all clear. His doctor came in, said the recovering Halsey, looking for all the world “as if he’d scored a goal for Everton.” And I turned into a man made of papier mache.

There must be something I can learn about myself from all of this, but I’m blown if I know what it is.

6.54: Well another chapter slides by. I’m trying not to think too hard at the moment about how and where this is all going. It feels like I’ve wandered into a forest. I’ve stamped all over the compass, and fed the map to a bear, and the only way out’s to keep walking. We’ll see, when we hit open ground, if we’ve come to anywhere useful.

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~ by David Thorley on March 23, 2010.

One Response to “Day 65”

  1. […] Reid – who I’ve already waxed too lyrical about here – has noticed it in elephants too. The elephant, mooching about in a heap of the bones of […]

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