we are deluged. nous sommes le flood. the rain, it has rained, it will rain. all year. the ground squish squishes beneath our feet. great trees fall. fell. great trees planted by ambitious Victorians. (some collect stamps, others trees from around the world, a walk through the looking glass collection deep into the future).
we walk the banks of the Exe. a trickle in summer. managed. manageable between neat and tidy flood barriers, cement girdles. now, after the rain rain rain, Niagrarian in ferocity. red-brown as a fox. many foxes. a hundred thousand foxes. biting and nipping each others’ tails. pandemoniuous. ly.
oh lovely Exe. for we who live atop a hill warm, safe, we adore to see you unbound. but oh those below. flooded lives. no rails. oh no.
we stop by the railstation. coaches – buses we call them – row on row on row. laughter. jollity. the best of British spirit behind a canteen wagon handing out coffee and water and cookies (biscuits they call them here). the spirit of the Blitz. lovely. uncrabby. uncovetous. a generosity.
quelle detour! I entered another world with a single question. four years of my time, my life upside down, inside out. just to answer that question. then a major work seen through to completion, despite all odds.
now another huge work just begun. a daughter 3/4 grown.
survival —-> thrive with the multiple kindnesses, those who have camino’ed the last étape with me.
bound to the earth with words I want the light of grainy film loops.
and I have begun to sing again. Bach’s Mass in B minor. each phrase perfect. a fugue, sublime. someday I will return to the Abbey and sing with the boys again. the hours. the days. in deep winter. when the wolves are out. and the snowshoes clack in moonlight. someday.
there was the mud, ankle deep, each foot weighing 15 kilos it seemed. I walked it alone. met up with you. the girl. all three of us exhausted. but it felt good.
I told you I had to walk alone. sometimes.
I had to walk into my own shadow for the first time in my life. not away from you. but into me. oh cliche cliche. but it was true. I always knew I’d walk home.
and there was nobody else I was walking towards but me. but you never believed me when I said this was so.
I let you walk alone. was happy for you. one day 52 kms. I had your dinner waiting. a bed. a bottle of wine too. the child was well. your knees and ankles swelled. but you were happy.
it’s four years since I last saw you. smoking cigarettes. drinking beer. helping the potato girls carry their bucket of potatoes to the kitchen for next day’s tortillas.
how I miss you.
a week in the Valentine. kisses. kisses to the Leighton Colony for allowing the likes of me to cross the stone bridge into the woods, to stomp the snow from my feet on the Valentine steps, slip the key into the door, hang my coat in the sunlit foyer, open the 2nd glass door into cedar and glass, vaulted ceiling’ed, grand piano’d Valentine.
privilege for hard work. commitment. vision. courage. facing/accepting failure. success.
last night a round of open studios. I saw a constellation of lipstick kisses. was hypnotized by colour/geometry in motion. saw a wolf’s head struggling out of stone. a narwhal swimming in a wooden sea. a lace fatima with laser eyes. a book that is a stream. a stream that is a screen. walking. a birdhouse made of flowers. a rabbit smoking a joint (or was it just a rolly?), singers being processed through animated tubes. tiny blobby folk engaged in blobby pilates (or?).
joyous. playful. no darkness. how lovely. (but then when one is writing a requiem maybe everything looks like light)
there’s a pine martin outside my studio. he rattles the roof of my neighbour. he rolls in the snow before my eyes. his face is sweet. little wolf. little racoon. little black bead nose.
a year, maybe 2? glub glub underwater. under war water. I swim through green sea. mermaid tentacles of war kelp grabbing at me. my arms. my legs.
I entered one woman. swam and swam. my man unable to believe. I’d surface. inhale him. breath air into him. us. our life. again.
now another woman. my arms, legs, body tested, strained. I reach land.
a description of sorts as to where I am… can be found here
I started Singing With the Boys when I was at the artists’ colony at St. Pete’s Benedictine Monastery in Saskatchewan. I named it this because I was singing the offices with the brothers as much as I could. A meditative, shared humanity.
Lately, I’ve been “singing” with the boys of a far different ilk. The Canadian forces Infantry. I am one of five artists chosen to be a war artist with the Canadian Forces Artist Program.
an amazing experience… if you’re at all curious, check out