Friday, April 21, 2017

the hiraeth of a woman

Today I glimpsed the hills and mist and beautiful old shadow of my homeland. I don't see it often; I live far enough away to make visiting it pretty much impossible. But sometimes I travel to the edge of impossible, and I look out at those hills, and I feel something I feel with nothing else.

Afterwards, I sensed a distinct change within myself. As if I had become fuller, more real. As if some nerve or instinct long dormant in me had been touched awake by the brief view.

I believe we are not just human bodies walking through the world. I believe each of us is made of bone and dirt ... blood and rain ... song and old starshine ... We do not go through nature but are within nature, woven into all the living things, the flower shadows, bird song, willows, ocean tideflows. And some of us shift, reweave ourselves, as we go. And some of us are always deep-rooted.

I may be a gypsy kind of person, but that's only because I can't be at home. I miss my home. I have missed it for forty years without any relinquishment of sorrow. I'm told by wise women to love where I'm at. To make my home where my feet stand, and open myself to all the world around me. But I can't agree with them. I know I ought to, because they are wise, but there's a dirt-voice that goes deeper and demands homesickness.

Where I live right now is beautiful in its own way. I have great sympathy for it. Parts of me shine with sea crystals, sand flecks. I have come to know the sparrows. But it's not my home. And I do not want to give up what is left of my home - my longing for it. My belonging with it. The things that wove around me in childhood are still part of me - or, rather, their absence is. Hill-wind has become poetry tumbling shyly through small books. Trees have become an ache in my bones. If I transfer my allegiance to where I live right now, I lose something of myself.

Why are we so afraid of the darker feelings? Why is it wrong to be homesick? Why must we love everything all the time? Why must we adapt and change ourselves? I am a hill woman. Exile has shaped me over the years. I would write very differently, I think, if I was up there again. Currently, I write for the sake of hiraeth. Maybe at home I would write wonder or trust, or something else.

I believe we should allow deep-rooted people in exile to feel their sorrow. Disconnection is not something that can be healed by just making a new connection. You have to attend to the broken threads, the lost songline, the unworded heritage. You have to weave them into something that will always look and feel like a scar, but that can in its own way be beautiful.

After I sat down today to write this post, I read these beautiful words by Jacqueline, and they echoed what was in my own heart. Sometimes when you say your truth aloud, the world harmonises.

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