Infidelities

Alison_389_2

Last night she ran out barefoot over
the wet gravel to call him back
from the street. This morning
in the tranquility of bath water

She wonders when it was she first shivered
with the wish for more than ordinary happiness.
How did she fall in love with poetry
that clear eyed girl she was?

Late at night, by a one bar heater,
her unpainted lips parted
on the words of dead poets.
She was safer in the dance hall.

"And if you can't love poetry"
she muses. "What was there of me
all of those years ago, apart from
that life of which it is made?"

Only an inhospitable hostess
A young woman in an old dress.

Elaine Feinstein

When was it we first shivered with the wish for more than ordinary happiness? When, as  in  Mina Loy's poetic tribute to marriage, did we first know ourselves to be like Gina, a woman who wanted everything, everything, every way at once? Is it a disease we all suffer? A malady integral to the female soul, this deep rooted need for more?

More now. Please. Again. More and more and more.
Or else I shall die.

I've been watching the BBC TV adaptation of Madame Bovary. Half an hour here and there fitted in between a child requiring constant entertainment during the shock that is a half term holiday. Cringing in recognition of Emma's sheer frustration. Knowing myself to be a fellow sufferer of Bovarysme-  " a disposition towards escapist daydreaming in which one imagines herself as a heroine of a romance and refuses to acknowledge everyday realities."  And getting myself in a terrible muddle as the books I've read converge in my mind... all at odds with each other and leaving me floundering.

Tell me this and tell me no more: if we are to believe in The Secret, if knowing, wholly and simply, what it is we want in this life, and trusting the universe to help us manifest our dreams is enough to create the kind of life we dream about, what is there to stop us from wanting too much? Not so much more than we deserve... but perhaps more than we were made to handle? What if, somewhere along the line, wanting more than "everyday happiness", believing  in poetry, or in lists of dreams as long as your arm, gets in the way of the everyday epiphanies?

When does wanting more than we already have become a betrayal of all that is wonderful now?

Perhaps it is an age thing. A mood of the nation thing. This sense of entitlement to more we all feel now. Or perhaps it is the jugular frustration of mothering young children. Of feeling our souls split in two as we strain to be the women we were while giving all we've got to other little beings? The itch of temptuous  relationships battered by want. And exhaustion. Yes perhaps it is just simple exhaustion that makes another life seem so tempting?  Or perhaps like Lucy in Charlotte Matthews poem of the same name, one day we will acknowledge the darkness inside ourselves and make it the purest part of who we are... She tells me time will pass faster as I get older, that I won't want so much anymore.

And even so, more, now, again. I want life to be prettier. Simpler. I want the life I'm writing in my dreams. My own personal fairytale. Prince Charming. A beanstalk to unimaginable riches. A tiny baby floating on a lily pad.  A life without chin whiskers please. Oh isn't it awful? For or else I shall die. But then perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, all of this is peculiar to me.

Sometimes my capacity for gratitude flutters out the window. So au revoir to all that. Au revoir.