On Thursday morning there was a little girl standing at my door and not coming in. She could see the wooden cat in the window and she sang: cat cat cat the cat. But her mother, laden with toddler, pram, baby, groceries and the rest of their life said: not today.
So, this little girl licked the glass of the door, the good thick glass, icy cold with the cold day and she stood with one foot flat and one pointed and her chin to the sky and eyes closed and tasted the glass of everything until her mother said: Oh God, stop it, stop licking the glass, quick, come away.
The little girl with both eyes still closed had to correct her mother. She said: it’s not glass, it’s lollies.
The thing about Hal Porter is that I do not know why I am reading him. I found him by accident and the volume was dull, without a dust cover, neither new nor old. The title, The Tilted Cross was quiet. It did not look at me.
This book came to me within a library that was gifted to me, an enormous and unexpected gift that will take me the rest of my years to discover. The reasons that libraries are put together and the decades it takes to put them together makes each one its own province with an understood currency and an exceptional climate. This library is a monarchy and this book, by Hal Porter, is now my favourite so far. The library is now blended with mine, and after the usual difficulties of integration and acceptance of minorities, is now settled mostly comfortably. It sheds more light, merged light, so different light and it is very beautiful inside it.
Now I am reading this book, The Tilted Cross, which is bizarre and difficult to read and difficult to understand and set in Hobart Town, Tasmania, convict history and ugly.
But what it is about is just the skin. The characters and the places are all just skin. What happens is just skin. What it holds is really it. It is not entertaining and not reassuring, and it is not clear. What it is, I am not clear on either, but it is important to me. I am unable to analyse the book, I am only able to read it.
It is something like a glass jug, held and turned and regarded in every light, upside down and inside out, bottom and handle, lip, glass, base and translucence. Regarded empty and fallen or full and erect. What is it and why.
Photography by Andrey Grinkevich