Five Points, Vol. 1 No. 2Winter 1997
From Eavan Boland, “I’ve always believed that poetry has a story, and that it has a story that you can uncover.”
The omens are equivocal. It is not actually raining, but as I choose my clothes at 7am that morning, Kirsty, still in her nightdress, comes into my room. “Margot,” she says, “why aren’t you married?” Why indeed, I think, skidding wildly down some long, dark alleyway into the past. Feebly, parodying the well-known cartoon, I say, “I forgot. Should I wear my black jeans?” But Kirsty, a diligent questioner, is not so easily put aside. “Why did you forget?” she asks, her eyes blue as cornflowers.
I am in Edinburgh, visiting Kirsty and her parents for only a few days, alas, and today is set aside to go to Glenalmond, the valley where I grew up, fifty miles north of Edinburgh. As I drive out of the city, grappling with my rented car, I do my best to put aside Kirsty’s questions. Instead I ponder this mysterious business of a journey with its implied beginning and ending. But Glenalmond was not a place I ever journeyed to—it was the place I was, most fully and completely—and if I am to journey there now, I need a place to start. Where should I begin: America where nowadays I mostly earn my living? London where I spend the summers? Kirsty’s house? I round a bend and suddenly the road unwinds before me in total familiarity. I am in Blackhall, a suburb of Edinburgh, and the answer is obvious.