Ersilia

skulls of saints–
the bones of the dead
dismantled–
spiritual songs

the bones of the dead
seeking a form–
spiritual songs,
grey life

seeking a form–
labyrinth,
grey life–
they are nothing

labyrinth,
consumed moon–
they are nothing–
times chant

consumed moon,
intricate relationships–
times chant
blood

intricate relationships
dismantled–
blood,
skulls of saints

A pantoum mash up of phrases from Samuel Greenberg’s “The Pale Impromptu” for Laura at dVerse, and The Kick-About prompt #13 “Ersilia” from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

The Kick-About prompt immediately made me want to take actual thread and do something three-dimensional to represent the abandoned city of Ersilia. Cardboard boxes were my starting point. Weaving my embroidery floss with a needle between the supports I cut and folded up, it became obvious how the city inhabitants became tangled in a state of impasse, forcing them to move on.

I decided to do a landscape background–the text spoke of viewing the deserted city from the mountains–and I spent a lot of time laying out possible landscapes on my floor from the collage references I had. I then dismantled and retaped a box to make a sort of diorama and glued the landscape pieces down.

Then I had fun rearranging the threaded bones of the city and photographing it from different viewpoints against the background.

Laura’s prompt, to incorporate phrases from Greenberg’s poem into our own verse, made me think of combining those words with phrases taken from the Calvino excerpt. There seemed to be an affinity between the two.

I read “Invisible Cities” in 2016 and posted a review on Goodreads. At the end I wrote: “Certainly it inspires visions that could be transferred to paper…and perhaps some of them will come to form for me at a future time.” And so they have.

passing

In the mirror I
am only a face–
a fleeting facade,
disembodied,
always incomplete.

I recognize it, but I
do not feel attached–
I dislike the lines,
the dark circles,
the sagging jowls.

Our interactions are
conditional, brief.
My face is
interesting in the way
of all faces,

but not memorable or
distinct—brown hair
brown eyes behind glasses–
averagely past its prime–
I could be anyone.

I see the years in
my hands and I
celebrate them.
Why is my aging
face a source of shame?

Our bodies are merely
ephemera—transitory,
waiting to be
discarded—waiting to release
our spirits to the wind.

This is some more old work I never posted because I was moving. It was inspired by two prompts: The Kick-About prompt of Joseph Cornell’s “Romantic Museum”, which was part of an exhibition dedicated to portraits of women, and the dVerse prompt from Sarah asking for self-portraits. As I said to Phil when I submitted my response to the Kick-About: what woman do I know better than myself?

The hand holding a needle in Cornell’s work, above immediately attracted my attention. I wanted to do something on newspaper, but I couldn’t collage (my first choice) as my glue was packed.  My needles and floss were not, however, and this also seemed appropriate to Cornell’s work.

I was pleased to find a newspaper page with a photo of hands.  I drew my own, and also my face, and stitched and wrote my reflections based on the drawings.  It’s not quite finished, but maybe that’s the correct response too.

linking to dVerse Open Link Night, hosted by Grace

of fairies and birdlings

it’s easy
to say no—but what
does that word
really mean,
exactly?—“not now”?—“never”?–
“I don’t understand”?—

“I don’t want
to deal with it”?—what
lies between
the letters,
the sounds hard and long?  if you
take away the n

what is left?–
only a surprise,
a sense of
wonder—worlds
filled with possibility–
the magic of ”o!”

photo

The Kick-About prompt this week features a photo of the Cottingley fairies, above, taken by two girls in England in 1917. Looking at the photo from the vantage point of digital manipulation in 2020, it’s easy to laugh at the fact that anyone could have actually believed that they were “real”. And yet…

(and here I find I must make more birdlings)

Are fairies true? Are birdlings?

dancing tree of life

faster and faster
the wheel spins, gathering all
into one huge dance

This was my submissions for the Kick-About prompt,a short ride in a fast machine“.  Since I was offline at the time, I didn’t get to publish my post for it then.

These pandemic days seem timeless yet I also feel that they are spinning out of control.

May we gather together to give the dance a form that includes a good future for all.

 

our voices echo through distances we cannot span

life spills out
into uncontrolled
spaces—still
mystery,
still yearning for parallel
growth, revelation—

who and where
do we think we are?
tiny ex
plosions look
ing for intersecting lines
that collide and cross,

waving brains
tides hands energy
electric
magnetic–
mapping the unseen
with disturbances,

promises
of what could have been–
had lighyears
been compressed
into overlapping sounds—each
a mirrored reply

Marcy Erb’s prompt for the Kick-About #11 was the planet Trappist 1e, an earth-sized planet orbiting the Trappist-1 dwarf star 40 light years from Earth.  What makes it special?  Scientists believe it is potentially habitable.

But not the entire planet–“there would be only a sliver of habitability”–as the planet does not itself rotate–one side is always facing towards the sun, and the other side is always in darkness.  The habitable area is called the teminator line, or in more familiar terms, the twilight zone, as it is always stranded between the darkness and the light.

The idea of a sliver of habitability seems relevant to the current situation on earth–the balance of the ecosystem is delicate, and we are narrowing that sliver day by day.  My two mandalas represent my idea of Trappist 1e and the waves of exploration and communication we are sending out in the hopes of finding another blue and green island in the vast dark cosmic sea.

cicada

cicada wings a

Cicadas are one of many species that make multiple visible transformations during their lifespans.  The longest living insects, they are symbols of both rebirth and immortality.

cicada close up 1s

drinking deep
of earthy tree sap–
high summer

songs weaving
spells of magical
protection

mysteries
of transparency
and winglight

cicada close up 2s

The word for the Kick About #8 challenge is cicada.  What beautiful wings they have.

I first painted the cicada, then glued wax paper down for the wings and embroidered on top.

cicada painting a

August 2020: under the weather

ennui no levels a

The day was packing heat,
hanging it like a curtain
between me and the world–
dampening all sound,
clogging the airways,
slowing synapses down.

The open windows
provided no threshold
of relief–no wind
came knocking.

You can neither forecast
nor change
the way the currents
move you, or strand you
unmoved, trapped
in a density that refuses
to vacate.

Some days have wings–
but most rely on gravity
to anchor them–
to keep them
safe from the whims
of Gods.

The Kick-About #7 Challenge is Walter Richard Sickert’s painting, Ennui, above. Ennui is most closely associated with boredom, but it is heavy with an attitude that it seems to me is mostly posturing.  It’s a self-indulgence of the privileged who needn’t even be bothered with the daily tasks of life like cooking or washing clothes, or even gardening, as they have servants to deal with such mundane things.

Boredom infers monotony which does reflect the world many of us inhabit right now–the endless days and hours that we can’t keep track of anymore.  But it’s not really boredom.  I have no problem filling my days, though I can’t always point to what exactly it is I’ve filled them with.  But I find it hard to focus, to find motivation, and I’m often anxious and uneasy and feel unsettled and displaced.  The relentless heat is no help.

That’s what I tried to capture in my August grid and poem.  The pandemic world of now seems to box you in, surround you with a sameness of grey.

ennui close up s

The eye in my grid is a serendipitous borrowing from Marcy Erb.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost

sue labyrinth s

After “The Owl” by Arthur Sze

I believed I was lost.
Night was on its way–
the path was purple in the dust
and seemed to have ended.
I had arrived here
without a destination.
I longed for sanctuary,
a resting place.

I saw an owl, perched,
watching me.
I spread my arms,
willing wings to appear
so I too could shelter
on a branch.

But I remained earthbound,
weary and alone.
And when the owl stirred,
a fine dust formed patterns
in the disappearing light.
It was as if a portal had opened.

Constellations
fell from its wings.  I was
surrounded by the cosmos,
spiraled into a glowing darkness
and deposited in a held breath.
All was silent then.  And I felt
safe, like the arms of the universe
held me in a vast sacred space.

Nothing stirred forever–then I sensed
the owl quaver.  And at dawn, waking,
I saw with clarity the world
becoming new, transforming
into a landscape that never existed
before now.  The path was green
and meandered back into itself.

I could not see where
I was going but it felt
familiar, like I had circled
with the seasons, following
the path of the planets dancing
with the sun and moon.

We emerged
reborn
into the
May light.

I’m bringing together a lot of different trains of thought here, so bear with me.

in the middle of now june 2016 grid s

The Kick-About challenge #6 is Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost.  Though I have not read that particular Solnit book,  I have read at least one essay she has written about labyrinths (“Journey to the Center” from The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness), and that’s the first thing that came to mind.

A labyrinth is not a maze–there is only one path in and one path out.  Labyrinths have been found in cultures all over the world, and are often used as forms of ritual or pilgrimage–a way to return to the source, to lose yourself in something larger and as a result find yourself again.

Sue Vincent’s photo prompt, above, gave me that feeling too–could not those paths be circuits on a labyrinth, doubling back to the beginning of the journey?

mapping the wind s

Labyrinths have been linked to circles, spirals, and mandalas–all patterns of sacred geometry.  They have been compared to a map of the brain.

Solnit:  “Getting lost was not a matter of geography so much as identity, a passionate desire, even an urgent need, to become no one and anyone, to shake off the shackles that remind you who you are, who others think you are.”

map labyrinth s

 

When you walk a labyrinth you are walking the same path to and from the center, yet the journey in and out are not at all the same.  The seven circuit labyrinth is often layered with rainbows, mirroring the 7 chakras, the 7 notes of the musical scale, the 7 sacred planets, the 7 days of the week. The journey creates a bridge from earth to the cosmos and back again. In a symbolic death, you return to the womb, shedding the things you have acquired but no longer need.  Rebirthing back to the entrance/exit you open yourself to finding new patterns, new ways of being in the world.

chakra painted labyrinth s

Lost can mean adrift, forgotten, missing, but also captivated or consumed.  Lost can be hopeless or bewildered but it can also be rapt, immersed.

Solnit: “…to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery.”

owl moon s

This poem is another instance where I spread out the lines of someone else’s poem and filled in the empty spaces with my own thoughts.  You can read Arthur Sze’s original poem here.

 

Who drinks your tears, who has your wings, who hears your story?
Rebecca Solnit, “The Faraway Nearby”

go make people s

 

Ancestor (Dance of the Happy Shades)

ancestor comp

He seems friendly
enough, this presence
of the past, shifting
languorously as if
drugged by sun
light shining in his eyes
after a thundering rain

In truth his voice
is seldom called
upon—an apparition
furniturial, fixed
impermanently in
corners and along
walls

ancestor close up 1s

His dance contains
unpredictable
undertones—the hours
move around him
as his buddha smile
glimmers knowingly
in the dark

ancestor close up 2s

Phil Gomm’s Prompt #3 at The Kick About is Dance of the Happy Shades.  My Rorschach ancestor mirrors himself and transforms in both vertical and horizontal directions.  It was fun to add a little nonsensical creation to my days.