Excerpts from Neon Daze

By | 1 May 2019

23rd August 2016

During the night feeds I listen to a podcast
about Virginia Woolf and hear only
fragments of it – the stones in her pockets;
that if she were alive today she would be
a comedian. I listen with one ear bud in,
the other ear devoted to your repertoire
of grunts and squeals. I stare at us reflected
in the wardrobe mirror, admiring the scene’s
composition and wishing I could photograph it,
but the phone would ruin the image. And,
you would not tolerate my hand leaving you
for such vanity. Some time in between
dozing and feeding, hoisting your three and
a half kilos from breast to shoulder – rubbing
the back – I confuse you with the subject of
the podcast. Or with me. One of us is like
Virginia and knowing this causes the tears
again. It has only been ten days and already
I am hallucinating.1
You are not yet the age
for “purple” crying. The word inconsolable is hard
as a stone in the pocket of the night. But,
as the windows pale, and the chance of a hot
shower approaches, its meaning weighs less.
Even your body lightens with the dawn.

  1. No, I did not literally believe Virginia Woolf was in the nursery. The almost pleasurable disturbance (what would no doubt have been defined as hysteria by a medical professional in recent history – perhaps even by my doctor husband that night, had I woken him and tried to explain the source of my upset; and, indeed, the psychological turmoil could be said to stem from the womb on this occasion) came from the fatigue-induced sense that all I saw and heard and felt seemed equally illusive. The Attic origin of ‘hallucinate’ is halyein, meaning to wander in mind, or be at a loss, or be beside oneself (with joy or sorrow) – to meander through these emotional spaces. That is what I was doing, with myself in my arms, my reflection divided, a literal voice in my ear and the ghost of a feminist predecessor filling what is the opposite of a room of one’s own. A nursery is a place in which you belong to someone else.

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2 Responses to Excerpts from Neon Daze

  1. Kate says:

    I’m so keen to own and love this book and give it to my friends. Wow.

  2. Yuxuan Zhao says:

    She was my English teacher 🙂