Time and light are kinds of love


In his poem ‘The Word’, Tony Hoagland addresses the reader with a to-do list of practical tasks.  The poem feels a bit like a love letter to someone, reminding them of what matters in life.

I’ve been under the weather, and also, under the weather.  A winter bug has put me in that altered state where the brain feels fuzzy and I’ve been sleeping long dream-filled hours at night, although I’m not ill enough to go to bed in the day.  In some ways, I quite like the sense of the world being different, more remote and less urgent, because it can’t be.

And the weather!  There’s nothing to complain about really, in the far East corner of Kent, compared to the floods, broken fences, snapped trees, lost tiles that friends and neighbours have had – and I just heard from a friend in Michigan, where it’s minus 9 and her boiler’s broken (or the ‘furnace’ as they call it there) – but oh, it’s getting me down.  I am always fascinated by these metaphors of height – yes, I need to get over the weather, and my self in the process!

There have been some brief snatches of blue sky and I’ve braved the Blean and its seas of mud and swollen streams.  The familiar trees seem to speak of stoicism and the sun does seem a little higher in the sky.  And in the garden, there are green shoots everywhere.  The flower bed under the birch tree has a swathe of green designer stubble where the snow drops will emerge and the magnolia is studded with tight grey buds.  And when the sun does break through, the air definitely smells different. Patience.

I like Tony Hoagland’s suggestion that ‘sunlight’ should be on the list of ‘things to do today’, alongside broccoli and a new spare tyre.  And even more, the reminder that ‘pleasure is a duty that also needs accomplishing’.

The daily dog walk is certainly a dutiful pleasure and a pleasurable duty, and for those brief hours, feeling the low winter sun was a reminder that that King and Queen are indeed still alive and speaking to their children.  What would they say, though, about the state of my boots?