Oldest story in the world: top of her class, distinction at uni, hired then poached by ever better-known firms. Youngest to make partner. Tipped for wealth and greatness. Travel, exotic foods, white villa with Ligne Roset furniture. Then cutting back as one adorable toothless grin, then two, then three captivated her heart.
‘Not pasta again!’
‘Don’t want to wash my hands!’
Husband off again, something about bringing home the bacon. He was trapped by long hours, but she was the bacon. Right there: cauliflower crumbs in her hair, stained with sauce, scoffing remains, falling over muddy gear.
‘I’m sick of you all!’ she screeched.
Grunts subsided, six eyes looked up. Was the fear in their eyes a reflection of hers?
Later: ‘Did you know, Mummy: pigs can’t look up at the sky?’
Nor oxen either.
They never found out why she thought that the funniest thing ever.
And in case anyone thinks that there is a recurrent theme in my work and that I hate or resent children: this is fiction! But what interests me is that tension between the creative best version of self and the everyday workhorse. Stanley Kunitz talks about the poet’s need to find the taste of self, which is ‘damaged, wiped out by the diurnal, the cares, the responsibilities that each day demand one’s attention… but the day itself cannot be construed as an enemy; it is what gives you the materials you have not only to contend with, but to work with, to build…’