My Ruinous Thoughts

“The hollow sounds rung through the emptiness of the place…sounds which could now only be recalled by imagination–tears of penitence, which had been long since fixed in fate” (Radcliffe, 15).

Today my mind has declared itself to be the Gothic ruins of an abbey, long since deserted. Although sounds ring from one hemisphere to the other, calling out memories to work with creativity to bring about cohesiveness, they’re hollow sounds. If, perhaps, an outer force were to push open my rusty gates, that force might find a working intelligence in the ruins. As it is, no hand acts on my imagination but my own hands-off approach.

It’s difficult to be in ruins, but there it is. I don’t know what else to say. I’m caught in suspense, as La Motte was as he approached the ruins in The Romance of the Forest: “La Motte paused a moment, for he felt a sensation of sublimity rising into terror– a suspension of mingled astonishment and awe” (Radcliffe, 15).

This used to be a place where superstition lurked–a place vast with ideas that led to a mental purgatory. This used to be a place where ideas waited to form themselves into creatures of the spirit or air. This used to be a place where words could do such things.

But this is my mind now–today, when I’m soaked in December rain and the sun is setting early behind the mountains, and desert brush stills to the wind that ceases for a few moments. It’s nearly dark, and I’m hedged in by the tangle of the scenery. After all these years of desiring only to be a Gothic heroine, it’s come to this–this mind of ruinous stones.

Someday, I might expel the ghosts, but not this evening. This evening, my husband waits for me to take my not-so-heroic self to his Christmas party, where spirits might wait, but not of the kind that haunt Gothic ruins. And so this frail excuse for a post must end now. He’s looking at me–giving me that look of intense impatience. Oh, well, he’s never quite intense with me. I’m the intense one, who has nothing further to say.

Radcliffe, Ann. The Romance of the Forest 1791. Oxford University Press 1999. Ed. Chloe Chard.


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