Blue Hyacinth

      It's a growing and now.

December 2001

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1 December 2001

High - as in the places where snow still lies, even at Easter when the melt is over in the valley below.  High - as in the exhileration of finally imagining that the climb is possible after all.  Hi - as in the initial welcome back home after the journey of exploration is over.  Hie - as in the discovery of where you've been and exactly who you were with and, well, all that "away, and get thee to a nunnery" stuff.  Hiace in the middle of the street, loading all your belongings inside as your father remonstrates and all the neighbours stare.

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2 December 2001

"Look, it's got a green shoot poking up."

"About time too...and look..."

"This is its roots."

"No. These are its roots. Honestly, 'This is its roots'...'maaan....' You wouldn't stand for anyone else saying something like that."

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3 December 2001

She takes the bulb and hauls its roots up into the air. It dangles, beached, between thumb and forefinger out of its element. She takes the earthenware pot and holds the bulb below the level of the rim, dropping compost gently around it, packing in, enclosing it, making snug its evidence of life. She rakes a little moss from the lawn and cushions the shoot round. She takes the pot, sets it down. She takes, or she takes it. There is nothing else to be done.

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4 December 2001

"A tenner on Blue Hyacinth to win." I try to sound as though I know what I'm talking about.

I don't. But I like the name. The horse is a grey mare and I also chose her because she 'looks nice'. It's got nothing to do with form. The bookie can read this, of course, and I understand very well that he has. It was probably obvious from the moment I walked in the door.

It's not solely that I'm the wrong age and gender - a woman my age who was grafted to the arm of the punter before me appeared perfectly in place. There's another in the corner, older, smoking and watching the race. It's a subtle matter of class, assumed tone and expectation

She comes in though. At 22-1.

The ticket sits above the fireplace for weeks. The cleaning lady waylays me one evening. She's leaving a little late and asks with a studied casualness, "Did you want this, or shall I throw it out?"

"No, no. You can bin it."

She pops it in her jacket pocket and nods rather curtly as she brushes past.

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5 December 2001

I've seen the green shoot. I don't feel like writing any more right now.

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6 December 2001

She brings the hyacinth bulb in from the cold and places it on the kitchen table puts porridge oats in a glass while she runs around yesterday's coffee filter and grounds in the bin trying to make up time and catch the last train water in the coffee machine which means she'll actually make it to work oats in bowl, milk in glass on time at least once this week. The bulb has thrown its roots into arcs now fold filter paper to fit them in the glass scoop coffee in and the shoot has a particular waxy gloss milk in bowl. She is trying to hold the exact contrast three minutes in the microwave between rolled purple and fresh green coffee on in her mind as though rinse off spoon this will be useful caffeine in a mug when she comes to describe its plump beak scalding sip, where's the milk? But even as she ping stirs brown sugar in and shovels sweet mouthfuls she glances at the clock ten to eight already she cannot remember breakfast half-eaten the exact bird species coffee spills and the metaphor is ruined no time to wipe it up.

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7 December 2001


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8 December 2001

I keep kidding myself that today will be the day I put the bulb in a pot. Properly. Like it were some sort of normal plant and not an alien thing under study. It's supposed to be in the cold, but it keeps finding its way into the kitchen. The flower might end all stunted, not crawl its way out of the foliage. Ever. It's become a liability. Just as I feared.

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9 December 2001

Take your hyacinth to a dance.
Flower when you're willing.
Lead on and never leave.
Once in a blue moon you meet a blue hyacinth at midnight
before it's even grown.
No one, no one ever said that you could
and who defines,
who defines the convex edge of the blade?

Take your hyacinth to a dance.
Wither when it's all over.
Lean on and never leave.
Once in a blue moon you meet a blue hyacinth in the morning
before it's even spent.
Someone, someone said that you could
and who refines,
who refines the concave blade of the edge?

Take your hyacinth to a dance.
I said that you could.

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10 December 2001

The webspace where I write about the blue hyacinth isn't permitting me edit access today. This is an excellent excuse. Although I could write about it offline instead...I don't. I just stare at the encrypted mess of my user name and find something else to write instead.

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11 December 2001

In my head I am blue hyacinth. I cannot fall. I need only exist and respire. Here we all are in our heads, not crushed, not vulnerable. The train travels on without us inside. I am not sliced thin, held up by a human wall. In my head I am blue hyacinth. They said "decapitated". I wonder how they tell. In my head I am blue hyacinth. My feet span the join between carriages. I even glimpse daylight through the tough, flexible black seal. No newspapers, laptops or conversation. In your head you are blue hyacinth and so, perhaps, is he.

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12 December 2001

Speak in hues. Say this to blue, "cerrulean, cobalt, dioxazine, indanthrone, manganese, paris, phthalo, prussian, teal, turquoise and ultramarine"

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13 December 2001

He catches a glimpse of the bulb in among a jumble of other objects. There's an old armchair upholstered in plush chocolate and amber, a microwave with its plug removed, a set of large wind chimes and other various things. He sees the bulb there, roots exposed, sprouting. He doesn't ask its name. He doesn't ask because secretly he knows.

-  You okay?

-  Me?

-  Yeah, you! Who else would I mean?

-  Well, I thought you said we were going to keep this impersonal? No anthropomorphism, no second person stuff. I'm just a bulb remember? I'm not anything to you.

-  Well yeah. I mean, obviously we both know that's true I s'pose.'re rather a nice bulb. I do like you. Quite a lot, actually.

-  Ohhhhh, give over! Pull the other one, why don't you, it's got seed pods and brachts on....

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14 December 2001

Life and fiction flow back and forth across the borders. There is no one and there is no the other. The blue hyacinth bulb exists and so do the words.

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15 December 2001

Take blue hyacinth out of the day and what do you have left?

Just, “___ d__”.

Detroit dragnet’s dastardly deputy’s duty doctor decreed, “Deep down, dirty dancer’s dark daughter didn’t dare doubt desire does drive destiny; despite disasterous debt discovered doubling despair during dull decade.

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16 December 2001

The tree is all dressed up in purple bows, with silver and purple baubles. It shines and waits, stood alone in the corner. Might as well be a bunch of wallflowers for all the luck that it’s having scoring tonight.

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17 December 2001

A thing can endure. Something made "by hand" can pass from mind to mind without ever touching ground. It travels through the eyes...or ears, through finger pads. The moment of creation is an encounter, as is the instance at which the words are read, the image seen. When the exchange takes place, the thing is real.

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18 December 2001

The texture of porridge is much more appealing than the taste of blue hyacinth skin.

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19 December 2001

bonding establishes
trust and respect
play with it
be aware of the advice on this
understand what the realities are
adjust your lifestyle to suit
dedicate the time
as long as two years
and special care

make time for this every day
don't get along?
one can't just walk

people are not all
made for each other
live up to those responsibilites
be able to communicate
socialise young
maintain bonding
develop your sensitivities
nobody forces you
but it will need a huge
stainless steel cage
physical examinations
who would (dare) refuse

for whatever reason
a typical human can recognize
a wide variety of
messy, destructive
individual personalities
a huge and very important step!

how big is big?
some are terribly
now what are you going to do
what are your contingency plans?
are you compatible with life?

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20 December 2001

I haven't seen the blue hyacinth bulb all week. I feel guilty. I take it out on the bulb. I think - so, it's all MY fault now, is it? What stopped YOU from phoning me if you're SO KEEN. Woooops! There I go again. The carefully constructed regime to depersonalise my relationship with hyacinths scores another own goal.

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21 December 2001

She wakes from the dream and the sense of loss is inescapable, even though she cannot fathom its exact source for a while. Then she remembers the hyacinth grown, bolted upwards, shot in the night. She sees the etiolated growth flopped over, turned leathery as the reservoir of water runs dry. She sees the abortive attempt at a bloom stopped dead, stunted in place and turns her head on the pillow, attempting to regain sleep.

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22 December 2001

We walk down the High Street in the late afternoon. The sky has inked itself over the precise shade that we're hoping the hyacinth will bloom. The moon is slashed on the slant into something which closely approaches a half. We look in shop windows, point up at the lights slung across the road, dodge on and off the kerb, slowly, slowly making progress.

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23 December 2001

The roots have formed a dense scribble in the vase. Inside the growing shoot two new blades are forming like a lower mandible, the original leaf hooked protectively over them.

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24 December 2001

Your Christmas Eve mission, should you choose to accept it: to purchase a container fit for a hyacinth bulb for less than a pound, within walking distance of the house.

I decide to burden myself with further requirements and attempt to find a container that I can reuse, rather than visiting the small garden centre at the end of the road. One of the charity shops is closed. Inside I reject, out of hand, the tea cup from Turkey and the three bulb vases I no longer think I need. (What, do this again next year? You must be joking.) The old porcelain boot is a nice idea but....just wrong.

I'm stood debating the merits of a small, rather-bland-white, fluted bowl (two tiny, tiny chips on the rim) at 30p and a crazed sauce boat with pleasing gradations of colour in the glaze, a flash of royal blue around the lip and two thin threads of gold at top and bottom, for all of a pound. It's more elegant than the other and I'm trying to work out if I can get away with using it for the bulb and then giving it a good scrub out and serving gravy in it next year.

Oh, what the heck, bread sauce tomorrow. Pot the bulb on Boxing Day. Open the sherry then and just do eenie, meenie, minie mo!

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25 December 2001

Happy Hyacinths

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26 December 2001

Put the bulb in a box.
Put the box into the car
Drive the car around the world
Until you get blooms.

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27 December 2001

hawser, heave, heavenly, hosts, hover, hundreds, healthy, huge, hamper, hold, horrid, harm, hellebore, hunger, hovel, hospital, hairy, heart, hosta, harrow, yell, yacht, yoghurt, yesterday, yore, youthful, yonder, you, yang, yellow, years, yummy, yo-yo, yawn, yomp, yearn, ampersand, avarice, air, allegory, aster, aniseed, artisan, awning, awful, aorta, artful, aeriel, angry, anonymous, ant, apple, antimacassar, avian, close, colourful, cleavage, costly, comforted, crews, crow, cover, colostomy, country, clean, clever, corporal, creased, curmudgeonly, clue, impediment, invade, illness, icicle, intermittent, insider, iota, insistent, imagery, inchoate, idle, ipomea, ivy, instigate, inflammable, imp, inky, ilk, not, never, nerine, negated, new, nebulous, nightfall, nerves, narwhal, nodules, nand, nubile, nugget, naughty, noble, nerd, nostrum, noddle, node, north, no, trading, trouble, truth, truck, trove, trust, turbulent, tidings, tarn, tangle, taste, tone, tryst, team, toluene, tumble, target, toast, taught, tang, two, harvest, hub, hug, haver, hologram, hollow, humus, hunter, her, hello, handy, how, hill, hymn, hole, human, haversack, haggle, hesitate, hang, hurl, home

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28 December 2001

I saw the bulb this morning, nestled up against the kitchen window. I think of it growing towards the coldness outside. I think about outliving its lifespan. I think about the oak trees which might outlast mine. I drink coffee. The bulb takes in water.

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29 December 2001

We (the royal we, "my bulb and I") are having a rather purple morning. A blue hyacinth bulb is purple. I'm never sure if that's obvious when I write about one. But how do I convey this if the reader has never seen such a thing?

Anyway, purple it is. And that sort of morning too where you struggle to inch a millimetre of progress upwards and then come back many hours later, look at the state of your shoot and think...'I can't see any difference, really, I can't'. So....offffff we go...two, three, four....pleeeeaaaaaase PUSH!

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30 December 2001

It's as though an old friend — watched shrinking away in hospital for months — is suddenly up and about and dressed for a party. The flared white dress is topped off by a green velvet collar of moss around puce-flushed neck. This bulb is potted and ready to grow.

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31 December 2001

Hyacinth flexes her neck against the collar and then pads softly out of the room. She picks her way across the landing and sits on the window seat, for the greater part of the afternoon, watching the world outside. Then, slowly, sadly, she takes up the silver-backed brush and begins to stroke it through the sticky tangle of her hair.

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