Tuesday, July 29, 2008

in which the fish muses on the ending of this day

The day is heading toward closing: this moment is one I love, its poignancy lies perhaps in the low angle of the sun. Low lines of gold on the side of my face, a bunch of jasmine on the table, shadows long and the scent the perfume like something arisen from the past. Barber’s Adagio perhaps is adding more atmosphere than I care for.

As a painter I am bound always to hunt for silent spaces and I spend way too much time in a place alone. If given the opportunity I will run there, whereas most persons, given the time, would seek the company of others, of community, but it is my lot to do otherwise. I spend great chunks of time in my own company.

Yet this is something that impacts on every other part of my life: My worlds collide in so many ways. I find that when I am in the silent space sometimes that I am paralysed. Sometimes when in the presence of persons huge tracts of speech fly out of my mouth before I can stop them.

At the moment there is disharmony, fragmentation, hostility. My practice is solely driven by things over which I have no control. Faced with that vast blank space before me I am often confronted by what appears there: I wish I was dispassionate. I live in an imaginary world, and I create through pictures a concrete form of that. Making pictures is the way I deal with things, yet even that is itself fragmentary, interrupted.

My life is a place of duality, hard to balance. Things slide away and I find it hard to catch them again. Things I make mean so much that looking at them sometimes breaks my heart. Right now it hurts my heart to draw.

I daydreamed of visiting Tate St Ives today,and my Tate newsletter arrived in the post.

My children. Sometimes I feel that I can do nothing for them: they overwhelm me in ways I cannot say. They are so different. Almost like opposites.
Sometimes I shake inwardly in the face of my own inadequacy as a mother: yet my son will say, upon waking and finding me in his field of vision: I love you.

I believe him.

And yet I know, as he does too, that he would live with his father, that he would choose his father if he had to. If things came to that.

The girl narrows her eyes and looks at the world with disdain, she is the blossoming of the Germanic branch of her family tree: intriguingly, there are shared traits with others, I have noticed. I fear that she will never see the world as I do, and it makes me sad, but at least she is strong, clever and organised.

The Queen of Emo gives birth to the Ice Princess: I wonder if my tears have poisoned her: that black spell when she was growing in me, and I was drowning in despair: did this colour her?
Her gaze is like a death-ray.

She is swimming, I can see her hair in a silver cloud. Her face has changed so much people don’t recognise her in the street.

The light is changing.

I think about my etchings, incomplete, and my canvases, which puzzle me. I think about the fragments of writing I have part completed. I think of all the reject letters I have received in the past week. The unsuccessful proposals and applications, so many so many they drown me.

I wish I could smooth all the jagged edges. The sea is roaring at me: I tried to keep out this morning but my limbs carried me there without my consent. Thus did I enter the sea, whether I liked it or not, in sheets of unusual icy rain.
My heart aches this week, and I suspect it will for quite some time.
The lovely Miss Boat is going to make me Steamboat next week.

The sun sinks behind a bank of cloud, at this moment the sea foam lights up briefly in a sheen of violet white, and the deeper ocean is the darkest green.
As it always has been, I will never change. I swim as far as I can in the cold, and then I swim some more.

This is me. Swimming through the dark pools when I have to. All the bits and the fragments and the hurting parts and the other times, there is always some light, there is always water, and salt. Strings of weed.
Banks of Apricot Cloud, a desperate wanting. Waiting.

Black charcoal, indigo paint.
Late afternoon light.

Friday, July 25, 2008

in which a fish rescues a dragon

A fragile day, today. We all have them don't we?

Having said to the sea that I didn’t miss it whilst in the kingdom of ice,
It flipped me onto my head in an unkind way.
I heard my breath rebound in all my inner chasms though I didn’t cry out loud.

Shouldn’t tell fibs, even if you wish them to be true.

I felt disturbed that the tideline today
was littered with earth-detritus: sticks, leaves, twigs. Not silt: that would have slipped straight down to the bottom in the storm.

Other things: a small flock of tiny blue-legged, blue-beaked seabirds, tumbled and washed up, silent and drowned. Those floating fish, small round and striped.

As I approached the northern headland by foot, I wondered vaguely,
given the silt and the storm, if I could expect the presence of a dragon.
They suffer hugely in the presence of earth in their aquatic lair, dragons. It suffocates them.

Simultaneously, as this thought formed in my head, I saw it lying draped with weed beneath the cliffs. Right on the wet edge of the sand, its rainbow hues so perfect and intact. Even the violet streaks on its flanks, the bright yellow of its spotting and the ruby of its eyes unclouded.

Ah, only just dead, I say, place it along the inside of my forearm, and put my face close. I study its long nose when suddenly

It opens its triangular yawp wide and gasps! I almost drop it in shock: alive?
How could this be?

The sea is roiling and heaving nastily, I wade in and place the sea dragon into the lively green of the sea. The twin frills at its ears begin to wave, but it floats to the surface. They hate disturbance of any kind: this one has been plucked from its tranquil lair by the stormy fingers of the sea. The waves try to duck it, and throw it again, but I retrieve it.

Hunchbacked and soaking, I wade and stumble through the water, with my half -dead dragon under the surface, until I am between rocks beneath the cliffs. Still it is too rough. I pick up the dragon and hold it near my face. Could it be living, after all that time on land? It floats motionless when I lay it in the sea.

But deep inside its red eye I see something. It twitches, it opens its dainty mouth again, like a shout. I cannot leave it here, there is no pool! It will wash onto the rocks!
What to do?

At least in the surf it will be familiar with the ways of the water, and will die in a familiar place. I look close. Its frills pulsate. Its eyes are clear, its violet flanks soft and fresh, the spines along its back are sharp. I cannot cast it to the waves. It is too fine and noble to be tossed.

My clothes are heavy and wet as I wade out into the only deep spot, and let the sea dragon go where the current might take it out. It lies on the surface as if dead, drifting slowly on the surface, floating on its side. I can see its rainbow hue a bright splash amongst the green gray.

And as I watch, to my immense surprise

It flips its tail,

and swims away.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

the long road home

I am home now

from the white

through the wide open spaces and the gold and the violet

all the way back to the blue. Back to the sea.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

notes from a fish in the mountains

Day 2

My half moon shaped stretch of sand lies 500 kilometres northwest, 6 hours driving, and almost 20 degrees difference in temperature. No doubt at this minute, Gregorio basks in the sun, as he does, with all the other gentlemen.
In this place many more clothes are required: When I arrive I feel the mountains take a great icy breath inwards. Slowly.

When they exhale the resulting blizzard rages so loudly I am convinced  a colossal monster is  trying to tear down the building, it howls all night long and through the next day. I feel, as always, that I am in another universe.
The last run of the afternoon: My small son and I, having endured the blizzard all day, find ourselves in the near dark. The wind drops and to our astonishment there are drifts of dry white pwder snow piled all around. Real snow, as fine as dust.
We are at the top of a T-bar track, which has stopped running for the day, and the track is covered in powder.
I follow him down: he is fast, and we do tight little turns down the narrow track.. We pass a group of kids bogged in the new snow just before the steep bit and we fly down in perfect rhythm together, the snow parts at our knees like silk, and billows out behind us.

This is rare snow here, more like Europe. Dry and soft and thick.

Day 5

I lie on my bed for the afternoon and watch snow all like feathers. Just before it hits the ground an updraft catches the flakes and they do one last loop before settling. A baby rosella hovers by my window squawking, its juvenile green fearthers making way for crimson: it looks precisely like a toffee apple with half the toffee licked off. It has a tremendous go at attaching itself to the icicles hanging from the window frame before taking off again.
Over on the mountain that afternoon for the first time I can remember, I saw rosellas up at the summit, sitting on a rock. Usually they stay down lower, in the cover of the snow gums. They look so startling and beautiful: an improbable splash of colour in the monochrome landscape. I love them so much I stand still every time I see one.

The central heating here gives me feverish dreams. The dreams of fish frozen on the riverbed.

Day 7

Snowboarders are, as a rule, feral.
If they are reckless and dangerous in my general vicinity I am known for having a go.
A group of them narrowly missed cleaning up my boy on a narrow pass, so at the bottom I skied over.
hey, I said
‘If you sound out those letters on the sign, you might be able to read it. I know there’s four letters and all, but you could try.’

They all stared at the crazy old bag.

‘just like this: s-l-o-w.
Not so hard really, even for a snowboarder’

It took them a moment, but by that time I had disappeared and their reply failed to reach me. So far I have managed not to get beaten up.

Day 9

A small group of us find ourselves stranded at the longest run on the far side of the mountain. All the chairlifts except this one are closed due to high wind, so noone can come over.

I fly down the mountain, My carve turns perfect and even. I sing and keep time.
I wonder how I m still able to do this sometimes, and I am thankful that I can.
I realise that after almost a decade I HAVE FINALLY STOPPED LIFTING MY INSIDE SKI.
When I were a young lass , on my old, long skinny alpine skis, my signature was a kind of little jump turn like a bunny hop. The thing was to lift , whereas with parabolic skis, you have to push into the turn.
Today I realised that I have finally adapted to my skis.
I skied like a dream. Finally.

We have the whole place to ourselves. After a few hours we realise we are rather hungry, and have to trek ourselves out. Thankfully due to the late season there are some parts which are not in deep snow, because twice I have to carry my skis and walk.

Day 10

The sun is out. At the top of the run I feel I can see forever: the moon revealed in daylight against a cobalt sky.
I consider this my winter solstice, that here is where I come to be cold, to be within the thick of winter, to see the sun as far away as it can be, so I can know the turning of things.
This landscape , for me, this year holds a poignancy that it never has before.

As always, I look out over the horizon, before I fly down.

Friday, July 4, 2008

running the gauntlet.

"Hey Fifi!" he shouted

"You've moved to the top of the queue!"

Which queue was that, I wished to know.

"The queue of women who want my body! " he cackled,

"You're next in line!"

Despite this piece of incredible luck, I am off to the Snowy mountains for a bit. Anyone who is wanting a bit of company, let me know. I can put you in touch.