Diary of the Plague Year: Day 64 18 May 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Alice Oswald (1966 – )

An extract from DART
There the musky fishy genital smell
of things not yet actual: shivering impulses, shadows,
little amorous movements, quicksilver strainings and   
each winter they gather here,
twenty seals in this room behind the sea, all swaddled
and tucked in fat, like the soul in its cylinder of flesh.
With their grandmother mouths, with their dog-soft
    eyes, asking
who’s this moving in the dark? Me.
This is me, anonymous, water’s soliloquy,
all names, all voices, Slip-Shape, this is Proteus,
whoever that is, the shepherd of the seals,
driving my many selves from cave to cave …


Alice Oswald

Faber and Faber

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 64 18 May 2020: Rain?Yes

After a cloudy, cool day it finally rained in the night. Today it is misty and wet, perfect. Just what we need and I hope it will rain again.

R came round on Saturday and brought some solidago, which I have planted next to my smokebush. I picture the bright yellow flowers next to the bronze leaves. R also had some wild onions and a couple of fatsia cuttings. Couldn’t think where to put those until I had a sudden brainwave – on either side of the gateposts of the little path leading up to the house from the road. In my imagination the giant leaves of the fatsia create a lovely arch from the road.

My face is very brown from all the gardening. My body less so, white, flabby and unhealthy looking – there is nowhere in this garden where I can safely sunbathe without being overlooked unfortunately. I look like a doll that has had the wrong head screwed onto the body.

Went up to J’s to get some veg. Green and Bronze lettuce, mixed leaves, spring onions, some tiny yellow courgettes. I made tagliatelle with the courgettes cut in half, fried in butter with the chopped leaves of the spring onions. Then some of the lovely pecorino cheese I bought from Pilgrim’s the other day. Delish.

Phoned Auntie Tita in Canada – she sounds lonely and fed-up as she is seeing literally no-one. They are being very strictly sequestered in her condo at the Oldies complex. She sounds like someone 20 years younger than her 83 years – really as befits an It Girl of the Sixties.

Also had Skyped with D & Co in Sussex. Just when you think things can’t get any worse in England. They are getting such confusing advice.

Matt Lucas: