Friday, 2 October 2015

My Darkest Day / Epiphany Visual-Poem I & II

Note to reader: I had intended to make a film poem based on these poems, and have some filmed visuals but for various reasons this project is on hold... (The film-director I had in mind is the person addressed in this poem.)
This poem in a sense, is a confession, whilst also laced with regret for what could have been, had one of us not been married. Also it is about art as our sublimation, mirror and release from the captivity of situations that in some deep way could be deeply harmful to the self. 

That's an enormous privilege. That's the privilege of all artists, to be able to sort out their unhappiness and their neuroses in order to create something.” 
― Michael Haneke

My Darkest Day - Written on 21st December 2013 

Several poems, and the second date in, the scene, a Queen’s Wood glade, 
when you hit me with this - when, that is, I finally venture to ask - the glint 
of light on the ground recalling the brief gleam of a wedding band, 
the night we met at a South Bank gallery - Yes, I am married. The revelation 
slips like ice down the back of my dress and soon after that we 
part ways, prematurely split. You, unavailable prince and me no maiden 
Princess Aurora; let’s not delude ourselves with any fairy-tale however sweet, and 
inevitably, this is to say one thing and only one thing, we can only be friends.
Your sweet Aurora, adieu xx

Back at the forest the ground is a tipped out puzzle forever unresolved.
a mis-matched chaos, and even should we perfectly fit, the rest of
our lives would be disconnected from our little island of togetherness.
Beside the pew of this fallen tree is a bundle of holly loosely bound
with ivy strands. (I need these fronds for my Christmas wreaths at
home.) Two of the boughs I place on the branch of the stripped 
winter tree, nameless to me without leaf or defining feature of any
kind, marking the place with a few small beads, read as blood - brief
love protected like some kind of exhibit fenced round with sharp
spikes, hearts left forever together in forest rain, like tree sprites
camping out on a branch in all weathers and never going home -

The place where we spoke for a while, the bareness of your disclosure
sliding coldly down the back of my sweater as we stood on the edge
of that woodland not quite knowing what to do, already there when
you said that you had a wife, your words like a slap on my cheek
awakening me from a dream. And here in the glade where briefly we
dwelt together I tell myself this, that it’s not you, it’s the forest I
love, not you but the flutter of nightingales high on the boughs of the
elms and the dampened aroma, the spiralling trees and the stretching
of limbs into the silver December sky.
It was the location - it wasn’t you. The adventure of my own
invention, my dream. You, as incidental to me as a trill to a score.
A cameo role. I notice a pine cone down at my feet. I take it home.
It reminds me of the silvery cones in the story that a friend sent to me
like a good spell to cancel out this, a story without a prince.

Stay with your wife since you say that you love her anyway,
though you also want me for your free afternoons as you say
you dislike being left all alone and need something to do, someone
to come and amuse you while she is at work. I’m not the one
for that part. To knowingly break my heart over this! Do I look
like such a fool? And are you really so potent you kill me just
with a look, a forbidden touch? Do you think that I want to go
there with someone who wants to hide all this from a wife?
No phone calls, no texts permitted. Waiting around for your call!
Leave me to marry the forest and dwell here forever and
ever until death us do part…

The cabin in the woods, we could pretend that it is our home.
But we can’t.

This lady, serving the tea, we could make believe that she is our maid
and we are the King and the Queen of the forest but we can’t.
This fallen trunk could be an outdoor sofa or pew where together we pray
to find a way out of the forest during a storm without being fatally
struck by lightning bolts pinning us to the ground. This patch
of leaf covered ground could be a magical carpet flying us away into
another dimension, and these slender trees like the posts of our bed
where you tie me with silken ribbons but never can this be. Your wife
is waiting for you at home, so please don’t be late. I imagine she
makes your bed and serves you your tea. So go to the woman you
love, the reason after all that you, with your vows, closed the door 
on other possibilities, including me. (You cannot expect to have everything.)
And I will love and admire you yet more if there can be any more love for you
than I actually have. For I am brim-full as though overflowing the rim
of a cup, an overspill blurring the room in a hazy halo of golden light
and I cannot contain what I feel. Here in the cabin café, I drown on
a surfeit of too much desire and waves of love even without you.

I want to do things with you that you never you did before…


Epiphany - 6th January 2014

After I left you that day, the sky, a defiant shade,
not quite lilac nor pewter, but the colour 
of nothing I'd seen, a hinterland stranded as though 
between lands and name, where we wander 
as though through a haze,
as though somehow drawn to the lights in a pool of dulled rain, 
I pictured a lily ablaze in a darkening marsh. 
Have you seen the orient flower that grows in the mud? 
It's stem like a golden thread in the dark...


Do you like fairground rides? Those chairs like love-seats 

paired on the North-Star Flyer. The way that the roller-coater rattles
through the air like a midnight goods train lost between nameless stations where 
no one seems to belong, the swoop of a carriage down, around 
its narrow gauge, the convoluted rail, shrieks tearing the air, that grinding 
next up vertiginous tracks, a precarious split frag-
ment of immeasurable time, time forgot, hearts beating like bared arteries,
nerves flayed as filament, and then that collapse through a million stars like
static, a ride that shudders to a halt... A staircase next that seems a bit 
shakier than before, a spillage of dark, everything seen through a 
hung-over daze.


Did you see? The lights on the lake of rain, the ground off the main
track marshy beneath your feet. Did you go up to that edge like me,
wanting to hold that ruby and gold light? Do you see worlds in pixels
of glimmering blue, afloat like a petal regatta of miniature fairy-size 
coracles? Have you seen that shimmering wheel, those families high in 
the spun clouds, that wheel like the eye of the car that a husband steers? 
Like the wheel of the car that you drove just once to take me to the tube.

Look at that lake of rain - reflections like pointe shoe and pirouette.
How quick we could script a play that’s titled to mirror you as the perfect
Florimund to my Princess Aurora, or you as my Tomalin and me as the girl
in that story I read you aloud in the forest, remember, the chosen bringing
the cruel enchantment to an end...

Just don’t look at me like you want me to fall in love...
What good is a ride that we will have to get off? That we cannot go on whenever 
we like? And why are we dressed like protagonists in a film? Or why do we think 
that we have the title roles? Why does it feel like this when to anyone 
else we are merely just no different perhaps. And how come it feels like the rest 
of the cast is left backstage or gone home and we are lingering on for 
no real reason?       

And look at that ring, just a fragment is left, like it’s flung to the ground,
a broken wheel, a segment of a stage, the rest eroded already perhaps and fallen
like rock into waves, oceans swallowing houses, yours like a castle from here
that I can never go in, the two of us flying like birds over a field. 


And from afar those carriages on that ride like creatures that crawl on a 
distant track, you can start to predict. It looks like a toxic addiction. A diagram 
of the mind. Do you know what I mean?
That addiction to being in love...

So come this way into the rain that falls onto the backs of our bared necks,
Minds like waves fused into one telepathic current, the story 
we make. Only the sleeves of our jackets occasionally rustled together, moth 
to moth wing, chaste as tempera angels painted upon a medieval icon,
the screams of the passengers tearing the air as we pick our way free like saints
stepping from snares... And lets take our poems as gifts, the stage lit
as though with our own bright stars.

Or let me alone; don’t lead me onto this fairy-tale ride. We don’t even know
where it’s heading - it feels like it’s made of glass - like it could break like -
I’m made of glass and you could break me. Who is at the controls? Is there a
driver at all?  Rein me forever back.

Rain! Fall on my face and wash this mascara from darkened eyes like a baptismal font 
tipped onto my head. Let me alone!
Raindrops like dew in a marshy puddle of rain... A balm where I’m tracing my finger
crossing my head, mouth, heart, a rite short off a forgotten faith, like an amulet
flung from a satchel (containing just unfinished books I do not wish to destroy)
that turns to a row of impassable pines, or a magical vial tipped onto the ground 
like a river I cannot cross. Oh Rain! Rain on the back of my bowed neck. And Light!
lighten my upturned face... 


The Dark Forest 
Dark is the forest and deep, and overhead
Hang stars like seeds of light
In vain, though not since they were sown was bred
Anything more bright.
And evermore mighty multitudes ride

About, nor enter in;
Of the other multitudes that dwell inside
Never yet was one seen.

The forest foxglove is purple, the marguerite
Outside is gold and white,
Nor can those that pluck either blossom greet
The others, day or night. 

Edward Thomas

The day before my forest trip I received this short story from a friend of mine, Sarah Walker as a message and I turn back to it from time to time. With thanks to Sarah Walker...

Gathering Silver Pine Cones
on the shortest day

A small girl becomes an orphan early on and the extended family debate over who will take her in, because everyone is poor. So the uncles and aunts and the grown-up cousins say 'no, we can't find room for her, we have enough to do to feed ourselves and our own kids' until at last a distant cousin says to her husband - 'well, I suppose we can put more water in the soup and move the little ones closer together in the bed: one more won't make much difference' Because this couple have eight children of their own already. 
So they take her in and treat her just like their own child, and as she grows up she learns to do what all the children have to do, which is help out, but one winter, times are hard and there's nothing much to eat and no money. So the girl has an idea - she takes the biggest basket she can carry and goes out to the mountain to collect pine cones, because pine cones are great for lighting fires, and if you've ever had a fire of pine cones you'll know how wonderful the embers are, especially if you want to cook something over it. She thinks if she gets lots of pine cones before dark she can take them down to the village and sell them to people for firelighters, and if there are any left, at least there'll be a nice fire at home and good hot embers to broil something on. 
But up in the mountains where the pine trees are, the ground is all covered in snow, and although she does her best to feel around and kick the snow away, she can't find any pine cones, and she gets thoroughly wet and miserable. Also, the dark is coming on - it's the shortest day. She's about to give up when she comes upon a tree that looks like a wizened old woman with a dark green shawl thrown over her head and snow on her shoulders. 
She starts feeling for fir cones on the ground at the foot of the tree, and suddenly a voice from overhead says "what do you think you're doing?" She looks up - and it is an old woman standing there. She explains very politely that she just wants a few fir cones and explains why. The old woman says 'very well then: take as many as you can carry. But if you're going to sell them, first take them home and count them all out of your basket and then count them back in again, and do it in daylight." 
So the girl agrees, and starts looking for pin cones, and as she does so, the moon comes out, and it seems she can find the pine cones by moonlight without any difficulty. The search takes her away from the old woman, and when the basket is full, she can't seem to see where she was when the old woman first spoke to her. There are a lot of trees that look like her, though. So she carries, or drags the basket home - it's really heavy - thinking she'll sell them in the morning. So in the morning, she remembers what the old woman said, and she and her foster mother take the basket out to the door step and start counting them - and when she holds them up to the light, each pine cone has turned to silver.

The Light Album

I started to compile some photos together on the theme of light




unknown place

reflection of a segment of the observation-wheel - 

Winter-Wonderland - Hyde Park

the dismantling of winter wonderland

car head-lights

crossing a common - in north east London

on the way home from my friend's house

heart shape

in a cemetery in Hampstead - London

making coffee on electric stove - 

a London morning