Blue Hyacinth

      Itís a thanks-giving and now.

November 2001

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[ October ]

[ December ]

1 November 2001

I want to write joy -

greasy purple pennants that take silk slap at the sky
peeling back layers of peppery thinness no longer alive
to find a course at the centre which might grow green
into November and unfurl towards bloom.

I want to sense water -

small licks of condensation misting at glass limits
clear reservoirs buried by furrows nuzzled against
some seethe of roots trapped fast in air which will wait
for nothing except constancy and change.

I want to grow now -

I want to grow now -

I want to grow now -

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2 November 2001

Blue. B-lue. Baloo

I was never sure about Baloo.  Some kids loved the genial hulk.  I used to watch him cavorting around and think, 'He's got something to hide.  There's something he's not telling.'  Oh, not in a sinister way.  I'd have felt comfortable slipping my hand into his great paw.  It's just that...I'd have waited until the party was over, the others had all gone home and he'd allowed his shoulders to slump a little further, slipped out of the smile.  I wouldn't have had the confidence to go running in with the crowd, pushing the others aside, clinging to his woolly knees, hoping for bear hugs especially for me.  All that dancing and singing and cod philosophy, though.  That's not a bear, is it?  That's a man, hiding behind a disguise.

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3 November 2001

I've got plans for you. That gives you obligations, means you've got to stick around. I'm expecting you to be here next year and what's more I have requirements for change. The same routine, hunched in the fridge all day, ain't gonna do...You listening to me? Stop sitting there just sprouting and do something, you hear?

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4 November 2001

Fireworks forced upwards into the sky to explode in florets of light. Something done for display, bravado, a chance to stand shoulder to shoulder with strangers. Beneath on the island a felled tree, a silhouette stripped bare of leaves, dips down into the water, like roots, seeking. Blue fireworks. At what cost?

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5 November 2001

The moon hangs high over frosted rooftops, on one side its lower reaches begin to blur. Below, a bulb drinks, grows, held in place above the waterline. On one edge the rooting work has still not even begun. Machines continue to make their own noises. The moon is everywhere at once. The bulb is nowhere except in this place.

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6 November 2001

It's become familiar about the place - like a pet or mascot. It pops up here or there without provoking comment. This begins to disguise the fact that it's in no way natural for a bulb to grow in these conditions. The signs are there though. Seen most in the way that the roots, streaming down in the water like jelly fish tentacles, press against the side of the vase. That urge to head outwards is being suppressed. Growth has been encouraged but also contained.

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7 November 2001

bean sprouts

There is mesh in the water, where light connects in the irridescence of the blue caves.
The litter thrown overboard will float. This is what we notice first before the view.
When a sheen has been established it will coat the memories layed down during the week.
Tendrils of previous instance impose upon the journey across the surface to the horizon.
Our keels, above their translucent obstructions, can taste the crunching of bean sprouts.
The blurred-over mirror of lost determination becomes opaque mass of beached jellyfish.

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8 November 2001

bulb in socket
whisk in egg white
pegged leg
set down
held up
panned out

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9 November 2001

My toes are pale and cold, but at least they're not dangling in water.

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10 November 2001

All day long I don't see the bulb.

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11 November 2001

squarl, n a squashed bundle or slightly crushed collection of items
mollatory, adj    silky, frictionless, especially of speech, as in smooth-talking or obsequious flattery

She opens the fridge for milk and sees the hyacinth bulb. It sits jewel-like in a crystal setting. Beneath the water a squarl of roots continues with expansion.

She lifts the chilly bulb from its resting place and presses against the boundary corral formed from pale roots. They are as silken, smooth and slick to the touch as she imagined them when viewed through the vase but there is something not entirely mollatory about their reaction to touch. They have a springy, unapologetic resistance which offers no appeasement and denies reconciliation.

She puts the bulb back on the shelf, returns the milk container to the compartment in the door and then shuts the fridge.

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12 November 2001

The next morning, in the car park at work, she finds the first strand of white in her hair. She watches the pleasure of discovery flicker on her own face in the rear-view mirror as she combs. It's there now, like the roots of the bulb. It looks as though it really belongs. Nonetheless, she still pinches it between thumb and forefinger and tugs it sharply out.

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13 November 2001

reunion   mystery   devotion   boredom   routine   perseverence

1.  If there is any magic Rule of Six with plants then it is definitely one of 2 x 3, rather than 3 x 2. Bulbs should always be grown in odd-numbered groups.

2.  Growing things is all about the mystery of such rules of green thumb. You can accept them as 'given' or discover them for yourself. Whatever the ecological imperatives a lawn simply does look rather better when it's mown.

3.  There are routine activities which spin off from any type of growth, be it watering a pot plant or raking up leaves. It's possible to bring devotion to mundane tasks, trimming a hedge, potting on seedlings, pinching out shoots or even changing the water beneath a forced bulb.

4.  Things die. You learn that. Just because you aim to encourage life and growth, you can't get by without accepting this fact. Sometimes perseverence and changing growing conditions can coax survival. In other cases your pet project will up and leave you permenently despite your best efforts.

5.  You can become tired of things; like the saggy old cactus that has probably already expired, the flowering shrub which never actually does. Boredom is something to be welcomed rather than rejected. It can, after all, be as strong a force for change as enthusiasm and longing.

6.  Sometimes there will be moments to celebrate, times when hope and realisation meet up again after a long ramble round the garden in different directions. Don't expect the reunion to last long, or recur very frequently, just appreciate it while it does - and then move on.

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14 November 2001

He looks in the fridge and sees it there - unfinished, barely even started-out. It's not a clean, hopeful possibility any more. The roots are messy, undisciplined. He wants it gone. He'd like to clean the shelf, throw it away. He's stuck with it though, doesn't feel that he can. The resentment of its presence doesn't endear him any to the prospect of its flower either. It seems typical of Jo that she would begin something and then abandon it. The mass of roots against the glass are albino, tousled, reminders of her hair twisted around his fingers. He looks in the fridge and sees it there - unfinished, barely even started-out.

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15 November 2001

Familiarity breeds. I keep forgetting to look. This morning I discover that the tresses of roots now spill two-thirds of the way down inside the glass.

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16 November 2001

Blurred pigeon wings among the rafters.
Links from station to station run late.
Under the clock I wait, knowing you'll never arrive.
Everything is hostage to the minutes traded back and forth
across the borders of my equilibrium.

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17 November 2001

Bulb as boat. Bulb as storeroom. Bulb as palette. Bulb as hyacinth. Bulb as futurology. Bulb as aspect. Bulb as growth. Bulb goes to the party dressed just as it comes.

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18 November 2001

She types, "The bulb is on the desk beside the keyboard. A head of damp hair obscures the screen so that I cannot read the words displayed there. Oak leaves outside hang down, green and gold and a few fall by the window while she writes. We three are the only living things in this room which is now taking on an overpowering odour of laundry. I wonder what will happen when the roots touch the base of the vase. Will they slow their progress or curl round, accomodating themselves to the space? Growing things is all about asking questions, planning ahead. I think she understands this too. I open the window for ventilation and the sound of leaf sweeping overlays the noise of the keys and occasional sighs."

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19 November 2001

Did you ever lose yourself in hyacinth?
Have you ever been purple
Until all the keys blocked out
Which way is up?

Waves are just fluid mountains brought low by gravity.

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20 November 2001

Iain placed the forcing glass inside a small wicker basket, leaving off the lid. He played to the bulb all morning, lips pursed across the mouthpiece of the flute. He specifically chose to play to it, as though he could coax a shoot from it, as if it were a snake or a rope to be charmed upwards.

He imagined taking the growing thing with him to rehearsals and concerts, placing it in turn around the orchestra; by the harp to enjoy a little Mozart, or perhaps under the staging beneath the double bass section to experience the full thunder of Shostakovich. Meanwhile, for its part, the bulb imagined absolutely nothing at all, because that's just the way it was.

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21 November 2001

For the first time we look at the water. We actually see the medium of growth as opposed to looking through it. We contemplate a change.

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22 November 2001

I try to sort all my thoughts out to build your shape with them. I want the bulge of all those which frighten or oppress me to be buried in your fulsome satin skirts. I will let the manageable ones, the next steps filter up into your crinkled bull-neck to wait for action. At the growing tip, where the possibilities ruffle and furl around upon themselves I ask for less and less. If the silence is actually in there then why doesn't it ever burst through, whether greened plump or pale-sickly, and just show.

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23 November 2001
I say:

{There's a bulb in the fridge. I say:

      {That's stupid. I say:
            {Sometimes I look at the world and I don't understand it. I say:
                  {that doesn't make any sense to me, I must be stupid
                  that doesn't make any sense, they must be stupid...
                  or wrong..or deluded...or evil...or...not like me at all....

      or I say:

      {There just is. Live with it, okay? That's how it is right now.
      It doesn't belong there. I'll take it out if I can.}

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24 November 2001

The tree is stark, arterial against satin bolts of sky. High in the branches hyacinth macaws hide their velvet flash of deep blue in silhouettes against the dusk. The one dead tree punctuates the ranch, become shelter, become roost, still standing. The sun sets. The birds fall quiet against the bled sky as all remaining colour leaches down and out of it.

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25 November 2001

I try not to think about the hyacinth bulb. I don't write about the hyacinth bulb.

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26 November 2001

It's not keeping up with the others. It's out in the conservatory now, trying out a slightly warmer version of cold.

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27 November 2001

See here - an iris and a tulip.

It's not all simpering, whimsical bouquets of daisies, asters with white roses and freesias or clichéd wads of peonies and delphiniums, lilies of the valley and sweet peas all frothed up with queen anne's lace.

Nor yet is it just a matter of courtly swathes of calla lilies, orchid and ranunculus, or amenable, nodding daffodils and dahlias.

Yes, there will always be blue hyacinths, anemones, ivies and hydrangeas. All well and good.

Sometimes there will be the surprise of sunflowers with purple lilac, unexpected heather, godetia and gardenias.

If you ask me, sometimes love requires a little more than (and amounts to something slightly less than) stephanotis.

Not all roses can be pink.

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28 November 2001

Do you actually believe in the blue hyacinth?
It might not exist.
I haven't seen it for a while either.
So now even I am beginning to wonder.

The fridge door is closed. The bulb is out.

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29 November 2001

in spires
longed-for flowers

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30 November 2001

I start to make a list of some of the people and things that I think I ought to see more often than I actually do: the blue hyacinth bulb,      , my garden, sunshine, my       , my        , the view from the top of a hill (any hill), the inside of a sports hall, daylight, my bedroom floor. I think for a bit about what on earth I mean by 'see' and 'ought' and then keep listing...a tidy kitchen,    ,         ,    , the office before 10 am, my timesheet in credit, a good days work done, my way clear to stop worrying for a while, the land of my ancestors,         , the way forward, the news, the sea, what London has to offer, the Saturday Jobs section in The Guardian, what's actually around me. Before I type up the list I cross out the names and descriptions of anything human. I smile and add             and                       to the list, but then I cross those out too.

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