The Blue Notebook
15th April, 1954
I have had several dreams, all to do with Michael’s leaving me. It was from my dreams that I knew he soon would; he soon will. In my sleep I watch these scenes of parting. Without emotion. In my life I am desperately, vividly unhappy; asleep I am unmoved. Mrs Marks asked me today: ‘If I were to ask you to say in a phrase what you have learned from me, what would you reply?’ ‘That you have taught me to cry,’ I said, not without dryness. She smiled, accepting the dryness. ‘And so?’ ‘And I’m a hundred times more vulnerable than I was.’ ‘And so? Is that all?’ ‘You mean, I am also a hundred times stronger? I don’t know. I don’t know at all. I hope so.’ ‘I know,’ she said, with emphasis. ‘You are very much stronger. And you will write of this experience.’ A quick firm nod; then she said: ‘You will see. In a few months’ time, perhaps a few years’ time.’ I shrugged. We made an appointment for next week; it will be the last appointment.
I had a dream for my last appointment. I took it to Mrs Marks. I dreamed I held a kind of casket in my hands, and inside it was something very precious. I was walking up a long room, like an art gallery or a lecture hall, full of dead pictures and statues. (When I used the word dead, Mrs Marks smiled, ironically.) There was a small crowd of people waiting at the end of the hall on a kind of platform. They were waiting for me to hand them the casket. I was incredibly happy that at last I could give them this precious object. But when I handed it over, I saw suddenly they were all businessmen, brokers, something like that. They did not open the box, but started handing me large sums of money. I began to cry. I shouted: ‘Open the box, open the box,’ but they couldn’t hear me, or wouldn’t listen. Suddenly I saw they were all characters in some film or play, and that I had written it, and was ashamed of it. It all turned into farce, flickering and grotesque, I was a character in my own play. I opened the box and forced them to look. But instead of a beautiful thing, which I thought would be there, there was a mass of fragments, and pieces. Not a whole thing, broken into fragments, but bits and pieces from everywhere, all over the world — I recognized a lump of red earth that I knew came from Africa, and then a bit of metal that came off a gun from Indo-China, and then everything was horrible, bits of flesh from people killed in the Korean War and a Communist Party badge off someone who died in a Soviet prison. This, looking at the mass of ugly fragments, was so painful that I couldn’t look, and I shut the box. But the group of businessmen or money-people hadn’t noticed. They took the box from me and opened it. I turned away so as not to see, but they were delighted. At last I looked and I saw that there was something in the box. It was a small green crocodile with a winking sardonic snout. I thought it was the image of a crocodile, made of jade, or emeralds, then I saw it was alive, for large frozen tears rolled down its cheeks and turned into diamonds. I laughed out aloud when I saw how I had cheated the businessmen and I woke up. Mrs Marks listened to this dream without comment, she seemed uninterested. We said good-bye with affection, but she has already turned away, inwardly, as I have. She said I must ‘drop in to see her’ if I needed her. I thought, how can I need you when you have bequeathed to me your image; I know perfectly well I shall dream of that large maternal witch every time I am in trouble. (Mrs Marks is a very small wiry, energetic woman, yet I have always dreamed of her as large and powerful.) I went out of that darkened, solemn room in which I have spent so many hours half-in, half-out, of fantasy and dream, the room which is like a shrine to art, and I reached the cold ugly pavement. I saw myself in a shop window: a small, rather pale, dry, spiky woman, and there was a wry look on my face which I recognized as the grin on the snout of that malicious little green crocodile in the crystal casket of my dream.