Downstairs Window

Downstairs Window


Some doors open on a thickly-peopled air
Of moving shadows, those whose lives, long gone,
Were spent there....
Some on a waiting silence - of expectancy
For those to come; some to the musty smell
Of mere desuetude; and some in constancy
To the long loving years of sweet content
In which the light of sun and moon have blent
In lasting light that bids all dark farewell -
Of such will this room tell.

Mary Stella Edwards, 1962.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Day 1: Opening the Door (1 May 2010)

Their gate is open, their door is unlocked.

I can dust their table and sweep their floors and lift down their tea-cups. I can look at the changing colours of the same sea when I stand at their windows.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Day 2: Reading Poems at the Burton Gallery, Bideford (2 May 2010)

Mary Stella Edwards and Judith Ackland at Bucks Mills.

In 1924, Mary Stella Edwards wrote 'The Dancing Star for J.A.'

Suddenly in the quietest places,
When the first star swims up fair,
Threading the bare twigs' delicate laces,
I shall be there....

I will set your feet to follow the dancing
Feet of the beckoning star,
Tune your ears to notes entrancing,
Hollow and far.

They will call us out to the starlit spaces,
And brief as a bright dream done,
Swift from the ash-wood's quietest places,
We shall be gone.

She was 26 years old, and Judith was 31.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Day 3: The Portable Writing Desk (May 3 2010)

The portable writing desk is supporting the white shelves above. They have come away from the wall. I opened the drawers and looked inside. One by one. This was the first.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Day 4: Judith Ackland Reading (4 May 2010)

Spent all this bright day down on the beach. Am filled with the never-ending sound of the rolling waves.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Day 5: Fulmars (5 May 2010)

15 years before Mary Stella Edwards was born and 11 years before the birth of Judith Ackland the only British colony of fulmars was on the remote island of St Kilda, 200km from mainland Scotland. Since that time they have spread right around the coasts.

There is a small colony of fulmars nesting on the face of the ruined limekilns just below the Cabin. They came in from the sea to raise their young. They will stay until the summer begins. Fulmars live long lives, regularly reaching 30 years or more.

I looked for them today, waiting to film their stiff straight- winged wheeling flight.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Day 6: Going Upstairs (rain), 6 May 2010

Soft, persistant rain all day so I climbed the stairs to think about 'a mere projection of the glow within' (MSE, 1969) and found a miniature barometer on the wall.
Rain From The West
The rain that bows the flowering grasses,
Leaving a crystal on each bending blade,
Has stroked for milesthe sea's grey ridges
And dints the shore-pools with its speckled shade.
Who knows what flowers and seeds of summer
May rise from this far-carried alien rain -
Which drops may nourish them and which, drawn skyward,
Will, wind-impelled, drive on to fall again.
Out of the west it comes, but to me...
It seems a local rain, meant for these grasses -
For me, whose sun its cloud can never spoil.
Mary Stella Edwards (1963)

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Day 7: The Linen Cupboard (7 May 2010)

I opened up the linen cupboard, took out armfuls and hung all around the room to air.
Then I changed the cover of the white bed.

I searched through all the unfolded pile of linen until I found that one that you loved the best.