I will get back to Poetry Review very soon. I am desperately trying to get through the corrections to the draft of The Summer My Father Died. I have given myself until tomorrow evening.
It is enlightening to see how many mistakes you have made - some typos, some bad continuity, some obscurity that need not be so obscure, some toning this way and that, some turnings round of clauses or sentences. The one good thing is that you are now free of the original text except as backstop. You are no longer looking up words and checking references. You've done all that. From now the translated book has to flow as a book. It is the voice you have found for the book being consistent to itself primarily, perhaps exclusively. You are no longer constructing the engine, you're hearing it purr and listening out for mistiming and other odd noises.
But it's small-scale work for the eye and eventually the mind tires too. I have spent some eight hours on it today, after having returned from university where I had a single supervision.
It would be nice to think poetry for a while, to breathe the emptier spaces of the page and move to a rhythm that generated itself as it progressed, to feel the slight drunkenness of careering through the forest of words powered by curiosity and the faint scent of subject. And then the white of the unwritten page breathing like the memory of nothing. A film.
Something is working from this, or around this; something that has been hanging around for months with just a few others like it for company. Around love, or the idea of love, or the ache of even considering it.
But it aches, each moment a scratch on a surface
that keeps moving, each moment simple as light
on a film-clip. It aches as if it were too bright
to register. You buy tickets and take your place
in the cinema of the spirit. You know the style,
the plotlines, the world presented to you, flat
on the flat screen. And then there it is, that
ache detached from the story! And meanwhile
the film runs on and is past you before you blink
and it hurts and is difficult. And you want to speak
of her and you can’t help it, can’t help but break
the narrative and the rhyme in which you think.
And when you walk out the scratch remains the best
remembered thing and you forget the rest.
Not right yet, but the thoughts are flickering somewhere there, in that cinema.