One of the true signs of loneliness is those moments when you realise there is no one around with whom to share your thoughts on Brönte’s Dreams. The gentle beginning, an ABAB rhyming pattern: While on my lonely couch I lie/I seldom feel myself alone/For fancy fills my dreaming eye/With scenes and pleasures of its own. The vision of holding a child that does not exist and the feeling that she, Brönte, the child’s mother, is not only wanted but also needed. The sudden realisation, upon the end of her dream, that there is no child and certainly no partner with whom to have her. How sad — and lonely — it is to think of those precious minutes in which a conversation could be had on the key themes of this poem: love, affection and self-deception. But the conversation never happens.

How sad to feel like Brönte at the end of her dream: alone with no baby and no lover. Only solitude as an unwelcome companion.

What if we were to wander onto the canvas of an artist painting a landscape? Stroll in at the precise moment when the painter is trying to capture the choreographic movement of a field of wheat? Would we be considered accidents, errors to be erased and painted over? Or would we be incorporated automatically into the piece? That seems to be the dilemma facing Kate Northrop in Affair with Various Endings. Of course, her two lovers, meeting “outside Kempton. with the creek rising behind us?” have plenty of reasons not to want to be included in the painting. Editing reality out of a canvas is a form of lying, albeit benign. Editing our own reality in order to create a story that casts us in a good light is also a form of lying. At times like this I think of S and how she is erasing the meaning of “the last of the light lifting this evening from the field of wheat”. Perhaps she is the painter and her view does not include me anymore. To paraphrase Nick Cave, she is still a good muse, but I’m still not much of a poet.

London-based, Cuban writer. Author of “Cuban, Immigrant, and Londoner”, to be published by Austin Macauley. Has written for The Guardian and Prospect.

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