Blue Hyacinth

      It's a dying thing here and now....

March 2002

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[ February ]

1 March 2002

I am the sort of person who loves ferns. I feel some fellowship with the classification. I have nothing against bulbs, trees, perennials, fungi, monocotyledons, lichens, shrubs or vegetables. Nothing at all. I just prefer the complexity of ferns. I love their repeating bi- (and sometimes even tri-) furcations, the way they unfurl cautiously multiple into the world.
A bulb, for example, is far too brave, and certain, about its future. What's the point of waiting around? Let's go, it seems to say - out into the blue - and have-at-the-world. A tree is rather much of a statement, hard to miss. Perennials return, again and again, dutifully without fail, however depleted or cramped their own space becomes. Fungi are like Victorian children, managing somehow to keep silent and invisible for years and years, only to pop up on parade at particular times. Blades of grasses are certainly many but far too straight-forward and uniform. I cannot hope to emulate their simplicity. Brave, ancient lichens are something too dogged and persistent to aspire to either, shrubs always either too messy or inappropriately formal and vegetables far too practical and regimented.
Give me something green with a tinge of anything else, something rhizomatic and emergent. Let there be ferns.
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2 March 2002

The blue hyacinth is cold. Today it is nowhere near story-temperature.

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3 March 2002

Tucked in the garden between the primulas, in segments marked by the overgrown cross of box, blue hyacinth spears are biding their time before shouting. They make green starbursts early into forced spaces. Sixty years after the bombing we commemorate with bulbs and bedding plants. Memorials are sometimes made of the strangest things. Doors can be slung on rusted hinges and fastened shut with innumerable types of latches.

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4 March 2002

Yes, I want blue hyacinth,
yes please, if there's any free.
Have you a little to spare?
Can you slip me some hyacinth?
Is there blue in the airs
and graces of a tail-feather, beak,
a broken wing or mirrored toy?
Have you a modicum of blue hyacinth
going begging which you don't need?
That'll do for me, dead hyacinth blue.

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5 March 2002

It's keeled right over. The leaves have lost their sheen as the compost and moss have dried down to a crackle. Each blade has curved round, back in on itself as the green pales. I slip my fingers inside each one, feeling them cold, surprisingly clammy to the touch compared with the flower head. That has bent double, its dessicated florets harbour no smell now, or at least, none discernable to me above the scent of my own finger tips. Their throats have bleached but each six-pointed starburst splays, wide and deep blue lips that are curling into violet and silver again, as though heading back to the colour of bulb-skin. I lift it a little and the flower spike comes away in my hand, a blue tinged thread of raffia. I pull the wings off my butterfly, one by one, until twenty-two lie mysterious in a scribble of cream and indigo in the olive-wood bowl. I discard the empty torso, a looped spine.

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6 March 2002

flump, slump, deject, squeak, loll, dangle, fold, hang, collapse, rustle, prop, flop, cascade, finger, fade

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7 March 2002

There used to be a blue hyacinth here. He had no use for a hyacinth. They used up the blue. A hyacinth (one, blue) was useful. A used hyacinth, secondhand, blue. A hyacinth became used to, grew accustomed to, the blue. Blue uses for a hyacinth, there aren't many, but a few. A useless blue hyacinth is here.

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8 March 2002

The petals have no smell of their own any more. Sprinkled with oil of bergamot they huddle in the bowl, steeped in a foreign scent.

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9 March 2002

They become separated. She and the bulb move from room to room, trying to avoid each other. She thinks she has taken herself succesfully from its sight, then forgets and they become re-united unexpectedly at various times of the day. She finds herself falling asleep only inches away from its reminder.
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10 March 2002

I kept stick insects once. They laid eggs. We kept them in a jar and changed the privet daily in case they were born hungry. It went on, the waiting. They never hatched. Somewhere in a dark locker the temerature in summer must have attained their liking. They emerged from bullet-hard spaces into further enclosure...and starvation. We found them later, heaped, crunchy, their six-screwed-up-petal legs adorning my guilt.

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11 March 2002

The hyacinth is dead. I wonder just how long it will continue to live?

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12 March 2002

The story of Hyacinthus Retold

Hyacinthus placed the plate upon the pole and set it spinning, tried to imagine it in motion forever. His thumb moved close to the sharpened edge. He felt it slice the flesh on the pad and watched it bleed pure moments into the dirt. Taking the disc, as if to juggle it with others or maybe throw and make a new shape from it across the sky, he missed the trajectory of Apollo's, already speeding, blown off course.

Hyacinthus, cut down, gone to earth, leaked the centuries deep into the earth and founded Spring. Year in, year out he blooms, dies down, restores himself and then blooms again...

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13 March 2002

The hyacinth remains in the dark...

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14 March 2002

Not just anyone can come along and read this. There are prerequisites. You need the equipment, the right connections (or access to them). You'll need a share in the language, a certain amount of patience and curiousity, luck (in large doses probably) to be here, and now, reading Blue Hyacinth. Welcome back, we missed you. We're glad that you're not just anyone.

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15 March 2002

Why a hyacinth? I don't know why I chose a hyacinth. It seemed about right, approximately the thing, the right move at the right time.

Blue? Well, colours were offered. I chose one. That's the point. You can't choose from what's not there. I might have wanted a purple Amazonian snake orchid (if such existed) but one wasn't. So, I spent a few moments, then picked. I had some others in reserve. It's entirely possible that I could have spent six months writing about a white hyacinth.

Six months! All the cups of coffee I could have drunk instead in that time. No regrets though. It's been nice to do. We've got on well, even if I'm a little bored with blue hyacinths now. There are still a few things up my sleeve, more ideas left to plunder. Only a few days left to go though.

Really, no regrets? Only that I didn't try for more variety, push the net a little wider. But that was never the point particularly, although variety was always welcome. The rules were that I could write whatever I liked, how I liked. And even then I broke those from time to time.

Would you do it again? Well, funny I should ask that actually. In past weeks this sort-of-idea has been rumbling, although I've been keeping it at bay. It says, take a break, play with what you've got, do other things about a Pink Narcissus next year? Just for a laugh?

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16 March 2002

I am a man looking for a man. If you know where he is then give him my address.

Where are you? I'd like to get in touch. You can't have all disappeared? I have looked for over thirty years. Got myself squared away now. I'm a social studies teacher a real "Teddy Bear" and I live in Hyacinth Lane. I'm not actually Turkish though and I never dated anyone's daughter.

You are blond, blue-eyed or Afro-American from your cheek to your heel, worked as a cook, in charge of a boxing team or a high school football player, haven't married a girlfriend or been got rid of by your wife for spite. You could be anywhere. I hope to hear from you.

We served together 68/69.

I am a man seeking a man.

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17 March 2002

Other sorts of hyacinths: water and grape.

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18 March 2002

He shook his hyacinthine curls and electric blue still remembered how to leak to earth.

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19 March 2002

We balance an egg on the brink of Spring. We hold a bulb in the balance. We have no idea how to celebrate Ostara but some of us have noticed the speeding recession of the night. We plant our feet wide enough to gain some sort of purchase on the year...and then just heave hard until we feel something give...

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20 March 2002

The leaves trail limply and long brown fingernails of die-back just brush the top of the cabinet.

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21 March 2002

Around this time I stopped writing about the blue hyacinth/a blue hyacinth/any blue hyacinths for days on end. Because I know it will all soon be over I seem to have lost the drive to do it, so all the words come out in a scramble eventually.

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22 March 2002

I plonk down some retrospective words about a blue hyacinth, sloppily, carelessly disinterestedly, inatentively, perfunctorily and then I run.

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23 March 2002

The blue hyacinth sits in its pot on the corner of the childhood desk. The sanded down wood, the tiny inkwell, the cheap white, moss-lined pot containing the dead bulb....and the small lilac notebook with its two umbilical chords - power and network - linking it to the world. Words like "desktop" dance quietly in and out of both scenes uncertain where to settle, not bearing repetition but hesitant about leaving before they've been used.

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24 March 2002

When it's stolen from the tatty van we're using to tour we try to borrow one. We try to beg and wheedle but nothing gives. Eventually we throw money at the problem and phone an instrument hire shop. By now our keyboard player is frantic. We hide his razor blades. It's our biggest ever break and and it's beginning to look like we'll have to throw it over. At the last minute when we're on the verge of scrapping our entire set the replacement is delivered. We set up gratefully and try not to even begin to consider how embarassing it's going to be to go on as the first ever goth-metal band to perform with a petal blue, hire synth!

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25 March 2002

In the dream we are driving. He turns to me and begins to speak. I realise before it actually happens and I say, "Look out!", but it's too late. The front of the car stoves in and the pole bends, pushes, twists forward. I'm no longer certain exactly how it reached the car and broke inside, but it did. In the confusion of dream-reality there is no broken glass but I hear very plainly the thud as his temple hits the pole.

I cradle his head in my hands. He speaks. That alone is a relief and it even makes sense. There are no sounds indicating pain but my fears leap from certain death to delayed concussion, blood-clots and nameless internalised invisible things. We get out of the car and turn down the track. To either side there are blue-bell woods. We stop before reaching the first house and he says, "I need to sit down for a moment." So we do. Only then, squatting on the tree trunk, propped against each other, do I notice it. The smell. They're not bluebells at all, but acre upon acre of hyacinths. I don't even know if we survived the experience in the dream.

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26 March 2002

It's blue ink on a page, a petalled scrawl, lost drive, non sense. We see all these things and can't decide. It all goes. All dies. In the end the choices made don't matter. But they're there. It's in a pot, this pot, because I put it there, cupped round with moss, this moss, each strand pulled from between the grass blades and weeds with hands, these hands, my hands. The moss was still a little frozen, half dew, half frost. The bulb I chose, selected watered, watched and then ignored.

I made this happen and now it's going away. When it's gone there won't be any evidence left of the time spent, these actions, what was real though invented, except here in words.

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27 March 2002

There are only so many things which can be said about a blue hyacinth. And the vast majority of them haven't been yet.

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28 March 2002

I buy a single blue hyacinth in a pot for Easter and give it to you on your birthday. You try to give it away and then think better of it, place it on a saucer and water it. I buy cream curtains and wrap them, along with the little books of quotes. I know I should write "quotations" but it doesn't seem to scan quite so I don't. After you've opened them we fuss with "drop" and pins.

We don't go together to the pub that once had no beer "due to a computer failure", which peculiarity I enjoyed enormously...irl was having a little downtime, I thought, how very understandable. We go elsewhere to eat, near the canal.

It's possible that I bought you a hyacinth for you birthday once before, I don't remember exactly when. This time, this year though, I shall never forget.

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29 March 2002

I come inside from transplanting bluebells out of the vegetable patch to make way for beans. I'm nursing a blooded finger and the rampant yeasty smell from the kitchen makes me hungrier than morning porridge filled. Throwing the window wide I let in the smell of Spring, drink peppermint water and watch the buds sway on the oak trees' myriad crooked fingers. Gently I lift the hyacinth out of its pot and lay it on the flaking paint of the window sill, like a voodoo talisman, shrunken since last I saw it whole. The roots draped, clung to by damp compost. I put a blue hyacinth between myself and my view out of the window at the world.

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30 March 2002

Carry the sleeping princess down into the darkness. Touch the scales on her violet face, comb the tangled bleached hair clung-to by dirt. Stroke her limp acquiecent limbs and watch her dream on upon her mossy pillow, etiolated, drawn, over-used.

Lift the lid.

Kiss the bulb goodbye.

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31 March 2002

There is no blue hyacinth. It's over now.