Wendy Mewes writing about Brittany
Part 1 October
Grief is a long road. You would think I knew long roads well, but there is no preparation
for the weight and pain of this.
Recently I had to say goodbye to my beloved dog, constant companion of the last thirteen and a half years. Imprinted on every page of every book. Partner in my story.
Grief is disorder and chaos, walking backwards, love with no outlet,
looking for a missing part.
I floundered without all our sweet routines. Leaving the house became an ordeal,
staying in it was awful. Long nights without sleep, long days without him.
For the first few weeks I believed walking would save me. But grief is indeed a long road to walk. It finds out every weakness in your stride and posture. It crushes impulsion.
I moved relentlessly, forcing action, along our favourite paths over the hills, around the park, by the sea, through forest and moor. I walked blindly, eyes swollen with tears,
limping out the route, remembering and crying, crying and remembering.
There was no consolation in nature, in those chilly flat visuals.
Familiarity hurt me like a sharp stone.
For territory unmarked by shared adventure, I took a new walk to an isolated chapel.
I wandered on an unknown beach. Where was my own connection through walking?
That profound sense of being an insider outside? Of being alive.
Muted to the mundane: scrunch of gravel underfoot, the thwack of a branch,
humdrum rustling. No music in the trees.
I was no more than an intruder in the landscape, muffled by grief wherever I went.
Angered by loneliness once so desired. No longer fitting in.
Grief is separation, torture by memory, intense absence, a white stone in the heart.
Walking is moving forward, making progress. Grief is restriction. Inside it there are no tracks or signposts. Moments of clinging to inklings and dreams in the darkness,
but no way illuminated. Imagine that, being pathless.
Then walking stopped. My body and dry heart simply gave up. No more echoing our steps.
No more empty treks. People keen to tell me that grief has stages, as if that helps, as if it will align miraculously with all the many journeys I have made. As if post-
Just leave me alone, in the spot where I am. Months later. At absolute halt.
Part 2 November
November notices I am not walking,
Poses the lure of a pyrotechnic forest
Which leaves me cold.
Keep walking, some idiot says
So back to my place of tough passage
Where hauntings shimmer
On the sodden heath
I walk from the lowest point
(There’s no more starting on a high)
And come up onto a dark moor
Under a dark sky
With waves of wind
Unsettling the fixtures,
Letting wraiths go by
Walking this way is brutal
A dark sun
Describes that broken line of dark rock
Where the track mounts slowly,
Dragging out the pain
And the same deceit
As walking again
A change in the light
An opening or
More tricky adumbration
I turn back to look behind
To see where I have been,
And he is following me,
Taking his time.
I call him and he comes
To be heard again by love.
It makes me see.
A split stem from the storm,
Winter butterfly still trying,
These dead details emerge
And I start to remember all I have
Pouring over and over
Merging with that stream
Strimming the path.
I lie down on the wet stone
And tell him again and again
What I know and have learnt
From all our years
And each and every time
And as the dark sun vanishes
Below the dark moor
I am still here
Whispering in a dead dog’s ear.
Part 3 December
In tune with dying light, I take a solstice walk
Hoping to end somewhere other than
That same old place called grief.
Face to the strong sun, looking to relieve old pains,
I am thinking a lot of last things, and never agains.
The east wind is almost a stranger these warmer days,
But now it whips me all the way, zips up my edges into one
Sealed mourning parcel.
The wheel is turning. Don’t look back. Don’t search the moor for him. He always did blend in.
At the top of Tuchenn Gador
The stones await, like wizened old men wedged beside the bar.
Well, we have all seen better days.
The sun torments me in its slow decline
Through still bright sky,
Lingering an hour above the smouldering line
Of thick grey haze.
The shortest day is over, but every day is long,
Grief makes the time pass slowly,
It makes the right time wrong.
Spreading flares of sunset
Pink quartz points in the rock
Transform my field of vision
To one rose-
Then, going down the hill
Silhouette against the fiery sky behind,
Down the hill something changes:
I am in my skin, fluent in walking
Joints working, the sad glue of deficit
Melting away in motion
The wheel is turning, don’t look back
For this sudden descent
The earth, the air, the solstice afterglow,
Pull back into alignment.
Alone upon the lonely moor, am I broken or mended?
Beginning or ended?
Moving faster and faster, trying to outsmart grief,
Dusk descends quickly too, running alongside me,
Grinning. For dark is what comes next.
And here he is in front of me
Waiting by the car, knowing
That what grief and walking are not about
Is getting there.
All text and photos on this site are © Wendy Mewes. Please don’t steal my work.