nine keys and old names

As I emptied my old house, in which I'd lived for seven years, I found a total of nine keys (there are seven in the photo  I found two more after I'd taken it). I have no idea what doors these keys are for. They must belong to places I've lived before. They were scattered in the bottoms of drawers, in boxes and in one case the bottom of a blue vase. I've rehoused them together in another box. I can't throw them away, even though they are no longer attached to places I can open.

Recently, I've left not just a house and a town, but a name. Using a name I last answered to when I was 24 feels more unsettling than I'd anticipated. It has been my name for all but seven years of my life, but it no longer feels like mine. I've found myself in a place between names. Answering to both but feeling like neither.

I've put this quote up before. It's from a book I love, The Poetics of Space. Gaston Bachelard tells us that Rilke, writing about a lost house, said
I never saw this strange dwelling again. Indeed, as I see it now, the way it appeared to my child's eye, it is not a building, but is quite dissolved and distributed inside me: here one room, there another, and here a bit of corridor which, however, does not connect the two rooms, but is conserved in me in fragmentary form. Thus the whole thing is scattered about inside me.
Already my old house has started to disintegrate, not only into rooms, but remnants of sounds, collections of light, strings of memories that form a strange geography inside me. There is now also a room with a box of keys on the desk. A room by a tidal river, but I'll write about that another time.

When I was teaching on an Arvon course in May, one of the students said, 'I write because if I don't I feel a bit poorly'. I've found it's not the lack of pen on paper, but the not thinking about stories, not noticing, not collecting odds and ends that dislocates. I've had a few months of pure upheaval. After a while it becomes too hard to write anything. But maybe that's the easy way out.

From tomorrow this blog will have a new url ( And having finally written this post I have no excuse not to write the next.

(Sitting, 2007, Sophie Ryder at YSP)