Sunday, 21 May 2017

Vowels Rise Like Balloons

Gertie turned ten earlier this week. TEN. I have a decade's worth of experience of parenting under my belt and I'm still none the wiser. The whole thing was, frankly, bewildering.

Her chosen method of celebration was a disco, for twenty eight of her closest friends. At home.

This took some strategic preparation: The borrowing of lighting systems to rival Blackpool; the sourcing of a playlist where not only did I not know many of the artists, but I couldn't actually distinguish between singers and song titles; the downloading of 'mixing software' in order to negate the requirement for a DJ; (Hearth-father secretly fancied the job, I reckon, but his lack of knowledge of contemporary pop rivals mine) the rearranging of every piece of furniture in the house to make way for a 'dance floor'; the purchase of more than fifty sausages, baps, and burgers for the accompanying barbecue. And so on. I feel that my new bookcases were enhanced no end by the sympathetic illumination. A 'bibliotheque', no less:

The allotted time came. I don't know what the collective noun for ten-year-olds is, but they arrived in their hordes. Initially there was a stand off: Girls in the sitting room (cunningly disguised as a nightclub), boys upstairs. There was a collective squeal everytime somebody new arrived. Then some ice was broken, after which they screamed, they sweated, they took selfies and slid down the staircase. They raided Eddie's toy box and had mock sword fights and gun battles. (Am I delighted to say that gender differences didn't seem to count? Not sure.) They charged around the house after the one person who has a mobile phone.

They did everything, in fact, but dance. Still, that's a disco for you.

After a while their noise seemed to float joyously, somehow, in a constant cacophonous chorus (the wine may have helped), clear vowels rising like balloons. Which rather reminded me of Plath's poem, copied below.

Ten years on from the 'birth day', I think I still feel similarly.

Morning Song 

Love set you going like a fat gold watch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Took its place among the elements.

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue.
In a drafty museum, your nakedness
Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls.

I’m no more your mother
Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow
Effacement at the wind’s hand.

All night your moth-breath
Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen:
A far sea moves in my ear.

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral
In my Victorian nightgown.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try
Your handful of notes;
The clear vowels rise like balloons

Currently reading: The Husband's Secret by Lianne Moriarty

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