Yesterday I found a soft brown envelope jammed into the back of my letter-box; it contained a CD that the postie had somehow managed to squeeze through the narrow aperture – not sure how; brute force perhaps, the jewel case is cracked. Anyway, it was Little Axe’s latest (a few months old now) called If You Want Loyalty Buy A Dog. I played it three times straight through and liked it better each time. Last night in a dream the package returned, only this time it was hand-addressed in fountain pen and the writing was my sister’s; who has been dead now for nearly forty years. How strange that I recognised it immediately. I opened it up and there, inside, all scrunched up, was a letter in ink on onion skin paper and a soft brown face-cloth which I took to be a gift – it looked just like one I have already in my bathroom and never use. The letter began: I am in the dark but you are in the light; but sometimes I see your shadow fall in my darkness and then I look out and see you and remember . . . It was quite a long letter but I don’t think I read any more of it than that; perhaps it fell from my hands. The writing we see in dreams may of course be illusory, it may be ‘writing’ only in the sense that we see it as such, without being able to make actual sense of it. What she said to me also echoes one of Arthur Rimbaud’s last cries, recorded by his sister Isabelle in the hospital in Marseille: I shall go under the earth, he said, and you shall walk in the sun. Nevertheless, that part of the letter that I did read, and recall, and have written above, now exists in my mind not as words on a page but as a voice in my head. Her careful, exact enunciation, her low melodious tone, that slight hesitation. . . most of all the clarity of the statement which, however dubious the circumstances may sound, I take to be gospel.
pic by Maggie Hall