Because otherwise he talked in metaphors.
I, the material, tried to recall Hobbs
on our journey down, neatly cocooned
in my Fiat 500 (driving, I could not dissipate with
‘things to do’). He responded with Berlin:
Do you know The Hedgehog and the Fox?
But first I want to talk of the tiger and the donkey
The donkey eats all day, the grass, satiating appetite
The Tiger, appears to laze around, but takes in
the world around, before the occasional kill
of the donkey, for a feast.
‘But we live in a democracy!’ I find fault.
At Butley we engaged with artists at the forge
awakening regret of the lost creative life of looking out
‘Imagine’ he said, ‘It is not Jen here but you,
what would you show? Would you work in stone?
I’d draw, I said. Instead I paid fair money
for Jen’s drawing of an ancient oak, from Staverton Thicks
We walked into the land of reeds, warmed by
September sun, we scrumped onions left on sand soil,
the beet top protruded from my rucksack he carried.
‘You will answer if we are stopped’, he laughed. Sometimes
I asked him to keep quite, so we could hear the birds sing
and my mind was free to look out. He smiled and did.
‘Why the white flag’, he asked. It marked the end
of our walk but became a new beginning,
as we found a ferry, and an invitation.
A man rowed us across, dogs went free.
At Orford Quay, we drank hot tea ate vegan cake
threw sticks into the water to cool the dogs
set off again, through fields, and woods, hedgerows
ripe with blackberry. He spoke with pigs, horses
and all the other teachers we passed, like olden oaks.
He stayed his last night in the cabin in the wood
where I lit a fire, and sat a while in the dark
under the hornbeams, smoked a roll up.
I thanked him for his teaching, awakening the two
polarities, form and matter, sometimes merging
with his metaphors. Twice he spoke as I’d not heard before
using the name we give to his condition, called
schizophrenia. Because otherwise he spoke in metaphor.
Come again, I said to Charlie, even though he was not leaving yet. Form and matter. I was so matter. Matter of fact. Feeling so pedestrian beside the waterfall of allegory and metaphore. There was the white feather. Much talk of food, for this was new vegan charlie, Why I asked. Who or why? He responded. When you are 70 what will you be like, what will you need? If you were Borris, what would you change?
Dinner with Virginia on Tuesday night, allowed me to watch their dance, and dance they did. (Virginia came to exchange on Knebb, where we had both been in the last week, and I had completed my tax return, on the deadline. We drove it across the Waveney up to high Denton. Charlie picked our pudding of blackberries by the hedgerow beside East Lodge – very low carbon footprint here. They spoke of family relationships with brothers. How Zoom had enabled Virginia and her two brothers to meet, and she watched how it was between them. She described how it was to grow up with dyslexia, her mother being of the generation who did not know the word or understand the way, dismissed: ‘You will never be able to play bridge’ etc. Charlie, sympathetic to the minority and to one suffering, questioned how or if dyslexia existed in Chinese, a pictorial system. At one moment, which I forget now, Virginia gave him the idea: ‘It’s like looking through a kaleidoscope’, the pattern can suddenly change into something different dependent on the mirroring’.
We swam. First in the daytime, then meeting Sara for the morning after equinox, early for us, we watched the sun emerge. It was glorious, holding breath, feeling the earth rounding to greet the sun.