I wrote this in December 2015, when the windows were completed, but I had no image of the glass taken in the evening.
“Linden has given me some squares of glass for Christmas. These will be fitted into and around my front door which receives a drench of light every afternoon. I imagine a cathedral, but really this is just my front door. I had my colours organised, but the glass artist changed them because he said my colours were not going to obey me. He said that colours quarrel. My dark rich colours would go black and sulk.
He changed my panes to rose, champagne, sage green, ice and an invisible gold. I complained that now there was no colour. And there wasn’t. He said there would be, that now the colours would cooperate and allow each other a fair go in the light, and that they would change as the light changed and show all of their personalities. My dark colours would just turn their backs because didn’t have enough space.
I said I didn’t know. He replied that it was understandable, everyone is busy. But there is nothing so busy with its own concerns as a piece of stained glass. Each piece of glass thinks it’s right. They needed to be treated subtly and with cunning to get them to all do what you want without them knowing.
Well, my glass panels are up and fat with warmth and light – and they are beautiful; the artist, with his dreadlocks and tools and dusty workshop was absolutely right. In the morning they are quiet and smooth and rich, in the evening they are hilarious, and show blue and purple even though this is impossible.”
The sun the sun
comes round the corner
like a shining knight of old
galloping over the landscape
on the horses of morning
And shaking his lance over us
in trance of night
awakens us to speak or sing
to banish death and darkness
And each steed a word
each verb a stallion
reared up against all ignorance
Untamed rampant radicals
in dictionaries of light
Dictionaries of Light by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Cold and quiet and nobody coming in – except one lady who was delighted to visit and walked around and around admiring everything except the books and who finally asked me if I might sell either the peacock out the front or the cat by the doorway or the stained glass Winnie the Pooh in the window.
I had to say that these things were not for sale and that most of them were gifts and that here, I only sold books. She leaned back in an attitude of devastation and said surely, not really…
Then she said she thought (sadly) that I probably don’t sell very much then…and then she left again (cheerfully) without Winnie the Pooh. He is still here. 😊
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