Tuesday, 24 May 2016
The Sources of . . . by Mark Young
In most school holidays I would stay with my Great-Aunt at her property in the upper reaches of the Rai Valley. The farmhouse contained a large number of rooms, each one — leaving aside the common living areas — dedicated to, according to my mother, a former lover.
I slept in the Theda Barr room. It was the only room whose name I was allowed to know, the only room I was allowed to enter. My Great-Aunt kept the subject of her own bedroom secret, but glances caught when she entered or left showed the walls were decorated with photographs of Igor Stravinski, some signed; hand-written music scores; a few fading posters from Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.
Persistence & the slyness of youth lead me to where the keys were hidden. So, every Wednesday, when she went off to play bridge with the ladies of the Country Women’s Institute, I would sneak into the rooms.
I identified, from the range of specific ingredients within, a Eugene Ionesco room, a Lenin room, an Isadore Duncan room, a René Magritte room, & an Alice B. Toklas room. The remaining four were a mix of people, some of whom I did not recognize, but none of whom dominated to the extent it could be said that this was their room.
Apart from the memorabilia, every room held at least three wall-comforters, embroidered by different hands. I would copy their messages & any other texts into a notebook. Sixty years later I still have it.
Sometimes I open it at random & make poems out of the lines I find there.
Mark Young's The Holy Sonnets unDonne is now available as a downloadable pdf from The Red Ceilings Press. http://www.theredceilingspress.co.uk/pdfs/the%20holy%20sonnets%20undonne.pdf