Picnic

 
If you are not happy, the sea is not happy
It sulks in and out of the bay
I lie on the bed or stand at the window watching the sea
Why must we destroy what we do
Watching the sea is like watching something in pieces continually
            striving to be whole
Imagine trying to pick up a piece of the sea and show it to a person
I tried to do that
All that year I visited a man in a room
I polished my feelings
Sometimes I think if the devil came and offered to swap me into some
            other body without me knowing what I’d be getting, I’d say
            …Sure
And, sure, I believe in the devil
 
I wanted to love the world
I thought when all the anxiety slipped away, I’d watch it go, and I’d know
            precisely
Every increment of its departure
The way ‘getting better’ can be an unfolding
The covers pulled back, the light coming in

                        *

           The mood of the sea is catching
Your eyes wear out from all the glitches
I sat there watching it and I can assure you it is so
Its colour became the colour of my eyes and the salt made me cry
            oceans

                        *

I like curved things
          Apples, peaches, the crest of a wave
We once agreed the apple was the only iconic fruit
 
I like it when I am writing a poem and I know that I am feeling
            something
To be poised and to invite contact
Or to appear to invite contact
 
          Remember when we used to imagine
          Our correspondence would make us famous or that
          Once we’d become famous our correspondence would too?
          Maybe it still will
          I’ll need to make a lot of cuts first
 
When did everybody start wanting to be famous all the time
Or has it always been this way
This is the rain, the October rain
I wrote that when it was still October
It must have been raining
 
This is sadness: men in waterproofs dragging the deep lake
The warm American voice says: There is no lack or limitation, there is
            only error in thought
My thoughts are wrong. My thoughts are wrong
The thought that my thoughts are wrong is wrong
 
                        *
 
I started to be able to see in the dark
It hurt my eyes
                       My, yes, salty, wet, ocean-coloured eyes
Albeit that in the dark they were the colour of the dark, and on fire
 
                        *
 
When the rain came after the drought they said it was not good enough
It would not change things
It was the wrong rain
The rain came out of my eyes and fell on the ground and dried up
I achieved no release
 
Who are you. Who are you. Who are you
 
Stop, language is crawling all over me
Sometimes if you stay still long enough you can make it go
If a person standing still watched another person minutely moving
            would it seem after a while as if they were watching the sea?
I remember just one thing my mother said to me:
Never look at yourself in the mirror when you’re crying
            I did not follow her advice
 
 

first published on Granta.com, January 2014, © Emily Berry 2014, used by permission of the author

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2Our Love Could Spoil Dinner

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3Letter to Husband

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4I Love NY

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5The Old Fuel

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6A Short Guide to Corseting

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