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This time of year is not at the top of my list of favourite times. With Christmas over, all you can do is wait for the mornings to get lighter. And keep your head down.

Saying this, it is a time for considered thought somehow. I think of people who’ve died, who I’ve lost touch with, or things I’ve let slip. And I am grateful for those who’ve reminded me just by their friendship and steadfastness of what’s important: Nancy, Lynne, Lisa, Katherine, Deborah, Helena, Valerie. Not to mention relatives, again whose consistent and unconditional presence has been life-changing: David, Janet, Hugh, Bridget, Anna, Howard, and my mother.

And don’t even get me started on the children, or R.


I feel a need today to write for Valerie. From the ages of 10 to 12, we were each other’s best friends. Bestest friends. Times change though, and we moved on, and lost touch, and…to her credit she searched me out last year — after 25 years. It’s been a treat to talk to someone who is ‘from where I’m from’ and who — still, all these years later — is interested in what I’m interested in.

Anyway, today I heard that Valerie’s much-loved dog Luna had died. The memory of holding our 17 year old moggie as he died last year is always close to the surface, despite our two new lovely kittens. Like everything we lose or lose track of, they stay with us.

The title of this post is taken from a poem by Yehuda Amichai called ‘Ballad on the Streets of Buenos Aires’. It’s a love poem, really, and the whole thing is one of my all time favourites, but this particular line keeps me breathing this dark time of year: and the light is always there to serve all loss. (I prefer the Stephen Mitchell translation, so have used his version of this line.)

Another crisp frosty start, so rather looking forward to heading into town later to finish the shopping. Staving off panic. All a bit last minute this year. And no cards written yet. Again.

As usual, my lists are exhaustive, obsessive and nearly incomprehensible: E haircut (made), M haircut (make), cats’ claws, cat litter x 2, drycleaning 24 hours? (ask), travel medicine, night time cough medicine, shave, truffle ingredients? (R). Etc. And the list of presents not yet secured: E to M, M to E, E to R, M to R. Etc. And now that the children can read, all in a code only I understand: M C & H, E 2… Sigh. And as if one list isn’t enough, I’ve today started my usual list series, a day by day countdown. I don’t think that a poem out of all of this would be very entertaining to anyone but me. However, in all my spare time I might write it anyway.

As a kind of leavening (wandering lists), check this out. Sent by Deborah via via via via facebook, as ever. Enjoy!


From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning


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Who am I?

A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.