Byatt on Byatt [Excerpt from an interview by Sam Leith, The Guardian.]

•February 6, 2016 • Comments Off on Byatt on Byatt [Excerpt from an interview by Sam Leith, The Guardian.]

“The minds of stone lovers had colonised stones as lichens cling to them with golden or grey-green florid stains. The human world of stones is caught in organic metaphors like flies in amber. Words came from flesh and hair and plants. Reniform, mammilated, botryoidal, dendrite, haematite. Carnelian is from carnal, from flesh. Serpentine and lizardite are stone reptiles; phyllite is leafy-green. The earth itself is made in part of bones, shells and diatoms. Ines was returning to it in a form quite different from her mother’s fiery ash and bonemeal. She preferred the parts of her body that were now volcanic glasses, not bony chalk. Chabazite, from the Greek for hailstones, obsidian, which, like analcime and garnet, has the perfect icositetrahedral shape.”

This is from my story “A Stone Woman”, a fairy tale about a woman who is turned into stone – or into many kinds of stone. The stone is a metaphor for grief and for ageing and stiffening. We are always being told language is inadequate to describe things. I think it is endlessly inventive if we pay it attention. I love all the buried metaphors in the stone-names. Thinking and writing are making connections. I once gave a reading in a university where a student said self-righteously “You used a word I didn’t know in that reading. Don’t you think that was elitist of you?” I replied that if I were her I should have rushed to the dictionary in glee and delight.

•February 4, 2016 • Comments Off on

It’s as much about this. The moments spent leaning against the bole of a pine, 12 feet above the ground, on a plank platform. The tree creaking a lullaby. The hours curled on the clover sweet grass. The day so still. What green means seeping slowly into the skin to define grass.

•February 2, 2016 • Comments Off on

At the low end of the field runs a creek flickering in and out of tree shadows, the color of steeped tea. I test the tension of an eddy and it dimples like fabric; I slide a hand into its cold glass glove and begin running my fingers over slick stones. The intent is to flip the right rock to send a crayfish scuttling out of its shelter in a small cyclone of silt. But even release does not disturb her.

Night Migration

•November 10, 2015 • Comments Off on Night Migration

There is a black shape, a dark drifting thing that haunts my vision. Not amorphous but solid. Though I know it is a thing of rods and cones, an anomaly of the eye, it has as much substance as the holly tree pressed against the kitchen window. It will not come when I call it but shies always to the side. This morning I folded down to slip on a shoe and found a small pin feather stuck to my ankle. Another hooked and clung to the smallest finger on my left hand. What have I eaten in my sleep: was it sweet and tender or did it need gnaw and render by my canines? It may be a remnant of night migration, the body making manifest a path dreamt between the lower atmosphere and God. But I think the shadow has something to do with it. Why else the furtiveness?


•August 30, 2014 • Comments Off on Quail

She eludes you, coquetting behind a gauze of rabbit brush just
summer greening, summons the eye to her plum bosom, the one
wing breaking from her shoulder. Geisha-like she trails
a drape of feather in the dust,

Monday again

•May 13, 2013 • Comments Off on Monday again

One plane grumbles from horizon to horizon. The lilac, almost stripped by the weather, shudders as the rain strikes its remaining rags of purple. I can hear the kitchen clock stepping delicately around a circle. Some days are like this. Suspended between water and grief and recollection.

Where I’m From

•February 22, 2013 • Comments Off on Where I’m From

I am from the pelvic saddle, the Rime of the Ancient Mariner
landlocked. From the ceremony of silly walks and shoes
that pinch. The Reagan years and Loose Gravel signs.

When I wander I carry an ocular device to tune up
the horizon with Gambel Oak and Cricket Mice. It’s
Exit 13 that I want with the Wagon Wheel Diner.

You’ll join me I suppose with your origami mapping
of clouds the equivalent of Georgia and bone
and the oracular tosses of tiles and of stone.

We’ll see where we land. Solemn as goats.
In our grey woolen coats and fingerless gloves.
A coupling of digits. Turn the key and let’s rove.


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