cold nights on the farm, a sock-shod stove-warmed flatiron slid under the covers, mornings a damascene- sealed bizarrerie of fernwork decades ago now waking in northwest London, tea brought up steaming, a Peak Frean biscuit alongside to be nibbled as blue gas leaps up singing decades ago now damp sheets in Dorset, fog-hung habitat of bronchitis, of long hot soaks in the bathtub, of nothing quite drying out till next summer: delicious to think of hassocks pulled in close, toasting- forks held to coal-glow, strong-minded small boys and big eager sheepdogs muscling in on bookish profundities now quite forgotten the farmhouse long sold, old friends dead or lost track of, what's salvaged is this vivid diminuendo, unfogged by mere affect, the perishing residue of pure sensation
While you walk the water's edge, turning over concepts I can't envision, the honking buoy serves notice that at any time the wind may change, the reef-bell clatters its treble monotone, deaf as Cassandra to any note but warning. The ocean, cumbered by no business more urgent than keeping open old accounts that never balanced, goes on shuffling its millenniums of quartz, granite, and basalt. It behaves toward the permutations of novelty-- driftwood and shipwreck, last night's beer cans, spilt oil, the coughed-up residue of plastic--with random impartiality, playing catch or tag or touch-last like a terrier, turning the same thing over and over, over and over. For the ocean, nothing is beneath consideration. The houses of so many mussels and periwinkles have been abandoned here, it's hopeless to know which to salvage. Instead I keep a lookout for beach glass-- amber of Budweiser, chrysoprase of Almadén and Gallo, lapis by way of (no getting around it, I'm afraid) Phillips' Milk of Magnesia, with now and then a rare translucent turquoise or blurred amethyst of no known origin. The process goes on forever: they came from sand, they go back to gravel, along with treasuries of Murano, the buttressed astonishments of Chartres, which even now are readying for being turned over and over as gravely and gradually as an intellect engaged in the hazardous redefinition of structures no one has yet looked at.