Friday, January 25, 2008

dancing with dingoes

There was much activity on the beach throughout last night, it was a full moon after all, and I know how it shone on that hard white sand. How it shone on the twitching stick-eyed lunar crabs and the silvered grasses on the dunes.

In the early morning you could see trails of pawmarks, large and small, see them clearly, a network of tracks.

In summers past I have seen dingoes at dusk trot silent and demure along the edge of the dunes, becoming invisible and fading into the landscape as I watch. It seems that the pack has grown, and celebrates its own existence. One dingo girl, with rusty flanks, comes to the edge of the shadows and her form bleeds into the very air: she comes when we dream, and her pup chews our shoes. My own cubs slumber in their membrane of silk, unseeing. The rusty one pays them no attention at all.

But here, this morning, as evidence of their joyful dancing, these looping trails tell me something more: that their paws swung round a wild arc, spraying sand with the impetus of their heavy flung bodies, feet driven into the sand deep and angled. Circles, running, one way and then the other.
Over and over.

It must be the moon, coming down in floods.

I’m told they don’t hunt in packs, and that this lot are the most genetically pure in NSW, which I suppose is a good thing. But I do know they have eaten all the brush turkeys, and those kangas, whose mythical leaps over low lying tents have entertained us folk for years, have been driven away or eaten. Only that mob living up the way in the paddock full of Belted Galloways seem to remain, protected perhaps, by the Belties. Dingoes don’t go near cows, it seems.

Last night, beneath that splendid moon, with only the faintest of yips, those dingoes danced wild circles, white sand flew up in plumes and scattered the ghost crabs, and not far away was I, with a headful of moon and the drumming of surf,
dreaming, as I do always, of you. How can I help it? In the face of such a moon as this?

Tis just for an instant: the tide comes in at dawn, and as I watch, smooths all signs of dancing away.

talk about the simulacrum preceding the real...

as Baudrillard might have said.

oh. Now I am here,
and the birdsong is real.

travelling a long road home.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In which the fish has a brief moment in the bush

By way of exploring the materiality of objects, of paintings,
I was able to be led into the innards of the National Gallery Victoria, down to the conservation department.

I sat, among a small group, in a circle, and listened to the head of the department explained concepts regarding patina, aging, removal and other such things.
He talked about Damar varnish, something I love to make: chunks of resin dissolved , suspended in muslin, into pure gum turpentine. The scent is wonderful but harming to the nose.

I stared at the painting on the easel, one of my favourite painters, who has become so quite recently. Von Guerard, right there on the easel. Naked, unframed. The conservator continued about ways to remove erroneously applied filler.

As i stared, the room seemed to silence itself beneath noises of the valley, the moist breath rising from beneath eucalypts , cleanly rotting gumleaves and the expanding green of ferns. Currawongs called, a whipbird was almost unheard, a crack of sticks distantly.
Small tang of smoke: forgotten things, making music.

It all radiated out into the room, louder and louder.

I elbowed my new friend, hey, I said

can you hear the soundtrack of that, coming out?

and nodded at the painting. She raised an eyebrow, and gave me a look.

I went back to my listening and sniffing until it was time to leave.

There was soil, and birds, and the wind in the bushy heads of trees which haven't known fourty four degrees to shrivel their heads into brown burnt bacon.

Time to go, says our host
We walk the corridors. Return to the clatter of the gallery.

It was a symphony, she said, that noise. An orchestra.

The painting had sung her a different song.

It was sunny outside on the street. Tram bells rang.

Monday, January 14, 2008

In which the fish goes to an international art history conference


I is in Melbourne!

Getting me some learning!

not much water,
but plenty of scholarly discussion.

just the thing with which
to fill the head of a fish.

Monday, January 7, 2008

blue velvet

In a particularly curmudgeonly fashion, I was refusing all entreaties to usher in the new year with any kind of enthusiasm.

No, I say, it is my new resolution:

Life is too short to waste on things I don’t want to do, and people I don’t want to do them with.
I refuse to go to the harbour, or to parties I hate. I wont I wont I wont.

It is my friend, the Little Hen, wittering away at me with her almost-erased Devonshire accent, who draws me out, and gently convinces me to come to a party. At the very last minute she phones and says:

Make sure you wear something glamorous . A dress like Marilyn Monroe would be just the thing.

Yeah, right.

As it happens, in my cupboard is my favourite dress of all dresses, The Midnight Blue.

This dress is the one of which I dreamed as a child. It is the dress one might imagine oneself dancing in the light of the full moon, or singing to the sea and the stars. It is the loveliest soft velvet, in midnight blue. Indigo, so dark as to be almost black, its sheen lighting up with blue light. It falls to the ground, it hugs the body, and is slit a little way up one side. A dress I would have drawn all along the margins of my schoolbooks.

I take it out and hug it. It strikes me that this dress, this dress of my dreams arrived in my grasp too late: it is a dress one should wear at 18, or twenty-four. But by the time I could afford a dress like this, I was beyond those ages. I just remember seeing it and wanting it so much, and then wishing…well. Wishing many things.

I wore it once.

Indigo Sea, detail.

I look down at myself and wonder if I will even fit into this hugging blue velvet dress, stinky and salty old fish I am. My hair is tousled, unbrushed and messy from the salt. I slip the dress over my head, the heavy softness blocks the light for a moment, as I wriggle in. The soft velvet flashes.




I run my hands all over it, every bit. I am wearing this dress for all those times I should have been bedecked in velvet and was not.
For all the things I should have done, and couldn't.

The feel of it , and me in it, is a gift.
A sensation of wonder.
How on earth can I still manage to get into this?
I grab a hair-clip and bundle my hair into it.

I am going to welcome 2008. I am wearing blue velvet which goes all the way to the ground and hugs me tight, so tight I am part of the night sky.

I step out into the suburban street. The night is warm. My son chatters at my elbow, looking me up and down, frowning.

Everyone, when I arrive, looks at me in astonishment:
you look beautiful beautiful beautiful
the dress works its magic on them all them all them all.

I hug myself, entranced, here it is 2008, and I have squeezed myself into a piece of the night sky and pranced around in it, so far along the road which is my life, way past the post that said that no compliment ought come my way again, magic indeed.

The distant fireworks light up the quiet streets, silently, they flare and glitter.
Time and place converge, there is silver and blue. The year becomes another.
I am everywhere in the world at once.

Clad thus, I shall dance through 2008, holding my head high, dreaming my dreams, crying my tears, doing all the things I need to do, holding on to the thought of indigo velvet, as tightly as I can.

Happy New Year.