This autumn, Understorey Magazine turns five. As editor-in-chief for those five years, I have learned a thing or two about the creative process, about art and time. These ideas have inspired our issue on age.
Snow is falling in my brain, gentle, / relentless. It starts with a small silence, / a gap / in the easy rhythm of talk. A familiar word fails / to arrive. / Bewildered by the changing landscape, / beginning to be frightened, I push on . . .
“No regrets, right?” Patti questioned and ordered at once, as she continued to cut. “No regrets,” Grace echoed, while thinking of things she had in fact regretted—the too-corporate work, the years spent seeking approval from family and friends . . .
One woman walking toward us stopped and said to me, “Well, aren’t you the sandwich generation.” Yes, yes I was. My days were full of caregiving from the moment I woke up until I laid my head on the pillow at bedtime.
It came with first breath, / with a baptism from holy waters, with a slap / that knocked you into the noise of time. / It came, as always, with numbered / fingers and toes, a severed cord, a split brain, / division and oblivion; / a gift and a loss . . .
If my mind could go back in time and inhabit the body of my seven-year-old self, I would get on my bike, get out of that circle and ride the wrong way down a six-lane highway or straight into a wall, jumping off at the last second.
When young I ran / loose and barefoot / Over partially colonised fields / and tide-transmuted rock. / Not pausing to consider the life / crushed underfoot / Or the millennia sharply pressed / into my tender arches . . .
Richie and I were almost finished our morning constitutional, once around the lake, when he sprang it: “Why don’t we have a baby?” The call of a passing loon muzzled my response as I stooped to pat a French bulldog, a veritable blob of lard on the trail.
Even with her failing eyesight, Orla can conjure up shapes in the dark like a magic lantern show. Cormorants wheeling over the Irish Sea, a pooka in the guise of a white hare. By some miracle, she doesn’t have to pee all night.
My figment, my flirt, my false friend, / who do you favour? What’s your fee? You can depend / on craters and valleys and friction / to warn — you will not be able to flaunt your fiction / forever. You are mine . . .
To dye or not to dye, that is the question: / Whether ‘tis nobler to let the grey hairs win / And reveal the age she truly is, / Or to take arms against the march of time / And hit the Clairol aisle at Shoppers . . .