This house is build on the footprint of one that burnt when all this country burnt. Oh Crow, we humans were different before. We were innocent like animals, waking each morning to sunshine or no sunshine. The only complication was the mind playing with its abacus.
Well, we are still simple, sound of body, but with burnt edges, the mind a chaos of new growth and charred wood. But Crow, what we were before, we’re not. Is that why you surround this new house with your songs of life? Yours is a dark beauty but your vision of life springing from death is as true the magpies’ who melody about love in the skeleton trees on the ridge.
. . . . . . .
Another crow poem. There may be more from now on because:
Before the fires Ervin fed magpies. We watched generations grow up, witnessed the shifting power structures when a dominant pair died, were entertained and delighted. One year we even raised a baby. We were magpie people.
Since coming home (and it does now feel like home) no magpies come. Crows have taken the space, they come for the meat morsels, they sit on the railings of the deck and drink from the birdbath. So far, and surprisingly, they have not crapped there.
Magpies fly by with indifference.
I don’t understand much, but, for the want of better words, it is like the totem of the land has changed.
We have changed. Perhaps when you traverse the threshold of trauma something essential changes. For some unknown reason it seems apt that crows would be the dark messengers of growth for me at this time.
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.
This morning a Brown Treecreeper
tapped on the window.
‘Wake up!’ he said.
But I was already awake because
he’d been tapping on the mirror
of the van in which I’d been sleeping
since it was light enough to see.
Perhaps you don’t know the Brown Treecreeper.
He hops around on the ground,
quite game, pecking at goodness knows what,
tiny things, insects, ants.
And he shimmies up tree trunks with his weird legs
as if there was no such thing as gravity.
Anyhow, when he tapped on the window beside my face,
he said, ’Wake up! It’s time to wake up.’
And added, as if it was unimportant,
‘Wake up to this beautiful world.
Save it. Save us. Save yourself.’
Emerging from brooding sea
she has grown feet and is dancing.
What are feet for if not dancing?
She is like a child who cannot just walk
but must skip or run.
Such lightness of being,
it is not yet time for sorrows.
It is not yet time for cares.
She has not been betrayed
nor yet betrayed herself
and so she twirls
twirls faster and faster
faster and faster
until she flies.
Image by Ervin Janek, the poem was written for the image as part of our ongoing collaboration. More of his extraordinary work can be seen here
A Silkie is a mermaid-like creature who, according to Norse myths, can take off her seal costume to walk/dance on land. Best if she doesn’t stay on land too long though, because she will dry out, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have written about them before and you can read that poem here.
There’s a space
where he isn’t.
It’s enormous and keeps
following me around
now here, now here.
The space used to be
full of laughter
and fun, compassion
With him I could
be my self.
When I lost him
I lost a true friend
The photo is by my husband Ervin Janek. It is called ‘Mother and Son’. I find it very touching, especially in the context of this poem. It was done a long time before our son died, but it seems perfect.
The poem reminds me of some of the old Chinese poets, Li Po etc. What do you think?
If you want to see more of Ervin’s images here is his shop and here is his amazing changing facebook collection.
The earth is exposed and vulnerable,
open to the sky.
Clouds gather, soft and productive.
Already the soil is filtering water to the roots of trees.
Many branches have fallen.
Kindness and recognition make me cry as if
I was lonely or neglected,
as if I were a droughted tree sapping with moisture
that I cannot hold.
My branches fall away.
Soon I’ll be an old gnarled thing
on a ridge top against the sky.
People will say, ‘How beautiful’,
and snap me with their cameras.
They will file me away in memories and albums.
I’ll stand there, decaying to the earth.
Particles of my slow death will fulfil something—
continue something: bugs perhaps, or birds.
May birds nest in me.
May I make friends with the weather.