In my brain is a tree. Its trunk is the brain stem, its leaves are thoughts, a myriad of them, many that look the same. Its roots spread out along the byways to the very edges of me where they take in air and sunshine and sustenance. The trunk divides in two, one leader in each half of my brain, and in each, amid the complications of branches is a crow.
Now, you may not recognise the voice of a crow as song because they’ve had a bad wrap, but they sing of sunshine and wings, grubs, the dank delicious flesh of the freshly dead, and they sing of love and babies, just like we all do.
And what they sing with, is air, like the air on the intricate surface of our skin or in each alveoli of our lungs, the air that courses through all of those byways of brain and body, and trunk and leaves.
Sometimes, when I despair at this view, this wide and beautiful view that once was the intimate domesticity of trees, I go and lie down under the blackened corpses of giants, amongst the groundcovers and mosses, the lilies and the weeds, and I feel their thrum of life, their steady growth, their complete lack of judgement or grief, and I think that I too could be as simple as that, and I too could just get on with growing.
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It’s a long process, fire recovery. Before Christmas I was involved in an exhibition at Fabrik called ‘Regenerate‘. It was gorgeous, as their exhibitions usually are. I had some art works in it, some brown paper bags on which I had drawn little things that I had noticed during the year since the fire. And I wrote and performed a poem about keeping on going through this long and involved process of recovering your life. It was not just for those who had lost tangible things to the fire, actually, but for everyone, because the whole society is suffering a level of trauma after that year, 2020. I made people cry. Great. Job done.
But anyway, the process of thinking towards that poem had me thinking about the word ‘regenerate’. It is a word we often think about when we think of the bush after fire, but I felt the word was not quite on the mark somehow. I thought, ‘This growth isn’t RE-generation. It is completely new.’
I think that is worth thinking about. We seek to get things ‘back to normal’ because we are uncomfortable. But what if we can create something new that is better than what was normal in the past?
Turn off your sound before you go there because Poem Hunter has automatic recordings of the poems read by a computer, and that is a fine way to RUIN a poem. Horrible. But the poem is one of my very favourites.
The performance poem I wrote for the exhibition, Solastalgia, at Fabrik, in Lobethal. More details about this series of exhibitions, here.
The drawing is mine, drawn with charcoal from my burnt home. It ended up being about 13 metres long on the beautiful wall of this gallery. It is as ephemeral as my home apparently was, and will be washed off that wall eventually. But all kudos to Melinda Rankin (director of Fabrik) for facilitating it.
Also kudos to all of the people involved in the exhibition, especially Jo Wilmot (creator of Solastalgia, The Exhibition) and Evette Sunset who said I mentored her when it was the other way around. We all learn from each other anyway, so who needs labels.
My drawing on the wall at Fabric, Woollen Mills, Lobethal, till 15th March. The exhibition as a whole is simply beautiful. Delicate, gentle, powerful, and healing. (Mine was certainly cathartic to do.) I’ll do another presentation of my performance poem and a reading from the book published for the exhibition at 2.00 on the 7th and 15th of March. On the 7th I’ll also do an artist talk.
This was a few years ago now. He’s probably forgotten what ‘me-me’ is by now. I wonder if there is a deep longing, the source of which he’s forgotten.
I’ve got one of those unexplained longings. It’s strongest after sun down. I doubt it has anything to do with my mother, but who knows? What I want, what we all want, is a deep abiding connection. To each other. To the world. Maybe the last time we felt a connection like that was at our mother’s breast.