Back in February I did a course about poetry and paintings. One if the exercises was to imagine yourself in a painting. I couldn’t immediately think of any paintings so I was writing myself into an imaginary one, but here it is:
The girl in the sea
She is knee deep in riptides angry greys and blues and browns swirl round her feet. Dark cliffs loom behind her merging with heavy storm- filled clouds.
I am hot, sticky and oppressed by the humidity of a city summer. My blue cotton dress reflects off the protective glass and I threaten to overwhelm her.
I step closer squeeze beneath the gilt frame, between glass and oils and sink into her world. Breathing with relief for a second as the cool air embraces me. Then icy spray spits at my bare arms leaving goosebumps.
I should have chosen that picnic scene in the last room; the one with glasses of wine and the glow of autumnal gold.
The girl still stares towards the horizon knee deep water becomes waist deep and I become afraid. The sea is untamed and will think nothing of taking her as prey.
I am part of a poetry group and due to Coronavirus we have had to cancel meeting up but we have continued via email. So instead of meeting up yesterday, one of the group sent round a prompt for us. She asked us to take a poem and write a response to it.
On Saturday I attended a course about writing poetry based on paintings. It’s not something I’ve ever tried before but my poetry group was going and it looked interesting.
Most of my writing wasn’t great but then I was writing about very different subjects to normal. Throughout the day we wrote about being part of a painting, about moving into or out of a painting, about meeting the artist and being the person who was posing. It produced some fun experiments and got me outside of my normal thinking which is always beneficial.
For a couple of my exercises, I chose to think about a cave painting of a bison.
If I could paint like the cave woman…
…you would see animals dancing across the rock …you would feel the beat of your heart crash with each thrash of hoof
I would show you the creativity of nature so you want to reach into the stone and pull out your own magic – personal, powerful, empowering
and then you, you could create your own universe with your own mystical imaginings
I want to be like the cave woman
I want to be like the cave woman feeling the rock and knowing that’s where the spirit of horse or bear or bison lay & knowing how to release them from their prison of stone.
I want to be like the cave woman who knows earth, and air, and stone as kin & the plants that crowd the forest floor as well as she knows her child.
But I reach out in the dark of my bedroom, not cave, to the untamed sculpture that is my bed with its heap of books and phone chargers searching for the lamp switch.
I could never be without my sacred night space, it’s coccoon of safety edged with fleece and teddy bears and the convienece of electricity that the cave woman could never have dreamt of
I want to be like the cave woman. I want to know my home and land with the intimacy that comes from survival, but with the comforts that turn survival into certainty and in doing so, render the relationship between the land and me nul and void.
The making of bats
is an act
that must take place
in the darkest of spaces;
no full moon,
no starlit skies.
Instead shadows and coal,
Silhouettes and pitch.
Hand to heartwood,
whisper wishes to the owls,
pray they take them, swift winged,
to the goddess of the night.
If you are blessed,
hear the sky fill with wingbeats.
The making of bats is a gift,
not a right.
If you haven’t already, take a look at my post on spontaneous generation and read about some of the ‘recipes’ that were believed to create animals prior to the 17th and 18th centuries. You’ll realise that my own recipe isn’t that unbelievable!
If a mama bear gets angry, imagine the Mother of the Mountains. Mess with Her children, She’ll dust off an avalanche; step out of line, She’ll realign your bones. She’s a blue-eyed beauty, and the mountains have their Mother’s eyes: deep lakes. Gaze into them, you’ll see their thoughts like fish – quick schools, slow rainbows – look deeper, and you’ll learn to dream like a stone. What does She feed them? Rain for breakfast. Anything else? She peels them the sun for lunch. And at night? Big helpings of quiet, then the Mother of the Mountains sings them to sleep with snow. The trees are Her grandkids; She brings them birds to play with. Whenever it’s their birthday, She gives them an owl ’cause though She’s a blue-eyed beauty, She’s still kind. Even soft . . . even fragile . . . Wolves howl to Her to show their gratitude. What about you?
I love this way of looking at the mountain, a true deep personification, the mountain as mother, as provider and as oh so loving.
* * *
If a mama bear gets angry, imagine the Mother of the Stars.
Mess with Her children, she’ll scatter white hot embers
and comets that burn
making Icarus seem like the lucky one.
Step out of line, She’ll set Draco on your trail.
She’s a wild eyed goddess
and the stars have their Mothers smile: radiating luminosity, intensity
Daring you to look and
punishing if you try.
What does she feed them? Diamonds and moon dust,
meteorites and wonderment.
She picks planets as though they were grapes,
offering them out as treats.
And at night? She drapes the sky with lush black velvet
then the Mother of the Stars steps back into the wings and lets her lovelies shine.
The milky way hides her grandkids as they grow;
She brings them tales from the cosmos, millennia old,
to fuel their fires and light the sparkles in their eyes.
Whenever it’s their birthday, she gives them pencils of sunlight
to practice joining dots into constellations.
Down on earth, eyes heavenwards, owls gaze in awe and gratitude.
What about you?