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Hello everybody. I hope you're all holding up okay during the weeks that arrive ever-more-furiously, ever-more-heartbreakingly. At least we have one thing: sprrrrrriingggggg 

Before I dive in today, here's a massive thank you for supporting my first postcard pop-up shop. Every morning of the past two weeks I've awoken with a knot in my stomach because launching something untried and tested is a risk but by nighttime I've felt blessed that the project spoke to something a lot of you were seeking in this moment. Thank you so much.


I seem to be someone who prepares the meal but never sits down to eat the food. Which is a terrible metaphor for someone who does not cook but a metaphor to say: I am good at the preparation of — the prospect of — a life-changed, less good at the changing-of-my-life.


I always wanted to be someone who could recite poetry from memory, I always assumed I would be someone who could not. But then 2020 brought whitespace, but then my brain brought white matter. And several times a day in the sunshine of June last year, I would whisper T.S. Eliot’s East Coker in a prayer. 


I hold Martha Postlewaite’s Clearing close to my chest and perform emptying’s. I toss the old into the fire on the full moon. I create space for the arrival of the new and I wait there until the song / that is my life / falls into [my] own cupped hands. Except, it never does. Or, it never has. And where there should lie a song sits a big black, gaping hole that screams in all of its silence. 


False starts. The past 12 months have been full of them. Which are different to failures — which mean you at least got to try. Which mean you had a chance, it just didn’t work out. False starts by contrast leer you into an idea but never quite let you get up off the ground. Bathos before you’ve even put pen to page.


It was a false start getting rejected from one uni, a short way across the Irish Sea. To an okay, so this one, only to be rejected from that one too.


It was a false start moving the conversation to WhatsApp for then the replies to run dry. A you are a fucking queen to a lump in my throat upon all the read receipts. 


It was a false start when first dates never became seconds, when the promise of a set-up never resulted in a number on a scrunched up bit of paper being pressed into the palm of my hand.

It was a false start making too many ghosts of a city that is not yet even mine.

This year has been an engine that could never quite catch its bite and there are a million tiny griefs for the things that not only didn’t become but never even got the chance to try.


And now I sit here in another clearing, one laid down by the prospect of normality, a glimmer that appears like a carrot on the end of a stick and I’m not so sure I’ll know how to get going. Because did I ever know how to before?


I can’t stop thinking about something a nurse told me as I sobbed in a hospital chair on the last day of 2020. How utterly broken I felt in that moment. You can go on to have a normal life, healthy relationships and maybe have a family of your own one day, she tells me from across the room. If it weren’t for these times of staying 6ft apart, her hands would be placed on mine, there would maybe even be a palm to my back. And right there I am dizzy because I never once considered that I might not go on to have those things, even though it becomes blindingly obvious in that moment that I have been stumbling down a road in the complete opposite direction. The future a severed thing. A thing that’s always felt too far out of reach. Months and years that have taught me that hard work, preparation, doing all you are supposed to are not a prerequisite for a guaranteed anything.


It is Spring now but I approach all this burgeoning life with caution. Because I feel something, in amongst all of this blooming. Like I’m onto something. Not on the cusp of anything majorly upending but something small at the centre of my chest which says, okay this. Or perhaps more notably: not this. A small leap. But I have felt this way before. I felt it back in December as I walked down the same country lane I had every day, when something about it suddenly felt…different…until it didn’t.


The record scratched, the song didn’t land into my own cupped hands. 


When I get home from the hospital I sit on my bed and the sun beats down upon me. Steam from my coffee dances up through the air as if it inhabits its own spirit, moves to its own orbit. The mug rests atop of my knees, my fingers wrap around it. I eat chocolate to generate a bit of energy. And it is a moment as pertinent to peace as I’ve ever known. Because there is a future and I’ll bleed into it one false start at a time.


As always, I love to hear from you. If you liked today’s newsletter, want to carry on the conversation or have any thoughts or feedback at all, do hit reply. Thanks for reading x

"Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.


🍄Songs, Songs, Songs🍄
(click to listen/follow on Spotify)

How Does It Feel — London Grammar

Call Your Name — Tora

Green Eyes — JOSEPH

Heathers — Leo Bhanji

July (‘Spotify Singles’ Version) — Noah Cyrus

That Picture of Me — Wy


Tulsa Jesus Freak— Lana Del Rey

To The Hilt — BANKS

Rx — Charlotte Lawrence


Esme Rose Marsh is a writer, artist and the founder of Hook Magazine. She publishes a bi-monthly newsletter called I’ve Been Meaning to Say… which contemplates what it takes to live a meaningful life and her collage prints can be purchased in exclusive drops throughout the year. Esme is a recent cat-convert, a current adoptive ginger and a frequent user of the em dash. She has contributed a variety of creative works to the likes of The Coven, Restless and CONKER and is available for freelance commissions…

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Esme Rose Marsh, Retford, Nottinghamshire DN220BU
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Esme Rose Marsh · Hook Magazine · Nottingham, Nottinghamshire DN220BU · United Kingdom

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