But one day, I know,
The photo is of a huge pile of socks. I’ve been on holiday for 10 days: first in Northumberland, hiking the coast, seeing Holy Island and a hill fort or two and taking a memorable trip to the Farne Islands, then walking 60 miles along Hadrian’s Wall from Carlisle to Heddon on the Wall, just outside Newcastle. Three years ago, I walked 210 miles on the Camino from Leon to Santiago. Before leaving, I asked friends who’d been all the way from Brittany to Compostela for their advice and they responded, ‘Socks, socks, socks’.
I’ve come home to heaps of laundry and an even more over-grown garden, a heat wave and a backlog of tasks. Socks are now folded in the drawer, the meadow mown and the to-do list awaits.
The poem that keeps coming to mind is Otherwise by Jane Kenyon, a poet I admire for her simplicity, modesty and her Blakeian ability to convey the mystical in the ordinary.
I’m partly drawn to it by its opening reference to getting out of bed on ‘two strong legs’. I am constantly amazed at how my (short) legs and small feet can carry my body so far, so readily and without apparent strain. Part of the answer is of course, socks, but also a lot of luck. I’m 51 and ‘one day, I know / it will be otherwise.’
I like too the domestic details of the poem, that sense of the rhythm of the household and her relationship – she was married to fellow poet Donald Hall. It’s a poem of gratitude too. Although at times I feel overwhelmed by the domestic, it’s wonderful to experience the sanctuary of home. The garden isn’t tidy but there’s a tumble of roses, clematis and sweet peas and tomatoes and runner beans are ripening. The buddleia is awash with butterflies. I was interrupted writing this by a call from a dear friend – in these days of screens, a social phone call feels like a gift. There aren’t silver candlesticks on the table but I can hear someone making a cup of tea in the kitchen.
I’ll post this and go and join them. One day, it will be otherwise. Jane Kenyon died in 1995.