'Diary' by Dorothy Porter

by
June–July 2002, no. 242

'Diary' by Dorothy Porter

by
June–July 2002, no. 242

It’s the silence. Even by the river, my ears are straining. It’s the silence. At this moment it’s a warmish humid silence with the grass outside lushly mesmerising the eye. Then there’s the drone of a fly. And the hum of the fridge. And down by the river at dawn, where I sat watching this morning’s mist melt over the water with the poet Judy Beveridge, there was suddenly from the far bank the rippling improvisations of a lyrebird.

This is a wonderful place. Frequently, I have silently thanked Arthur Boyd for this gift of his home, and for the blessing of my time here. I am working with the composer Jonathan Mills on a chamber opera, The Eternity Man, which has been short-listed for an opera competition. In a few weeks, we’ll be in London collaborating with musicians and singers. For now, we’re working in this rich, unsettling silence. I’m scratching for words. Jonathan is scratching for sounds. Amidst this provocative silence, we’re both listening for the stir of our embryonic opera growing in our heads.

I am liberated from all my routines, with huge tracts of time. Sometimes I walk into the silence and start talking to myself, sometimes obsessively on the same sore topics, like a rat trapped in the four-am-morning-blues wheel. Other times, and these I prefer, I meld with the silence and let my eyes take over.

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