Where to begin? It has to be the moment I stepped on the platform at Lime Street Station in Liverpool, heard the squawking and cawing and felt the sea close by. City life is one thing but the sea, that’s quite another. There was a hint of the ‘beginning of the line’ about it.
Although, I almost didn’t make it. I stepped on the train at 09.22, it had arrived on time. I don’t know what made me do it, but I checked with others in the carriage and soon realised my naivety. At least half had got on the wrong train, were also heading the wrong way and some, were young enough to know better.
It did enter my mind to respond rather spontaneously and let the day continue without direction but that was how I had started the day in the first place in Manchester, heading further out than most on a writing expedition. And people soon had me going the right way. The Northern way.
I think it is also a matter of geography, never a smooth fit for me and I couldn’t ignore that fact when I saw a ferry leaving Albert Dock and realised that Dublin was in my grasp and the Southern Ireland of Ryan’s Daughter!
Always good to have an eye for the future, easy to do from the vantage on Merseyside like. The musicality of dialect is becoming a passion and Ta-ra echoed in the chip chop as in the Potteries. I had the best chips and mushy peas and a lively conversation in a room seemingly full of talking hands free.
A draft poem of the day – Cobbled.
Well, it has been a bit of a trip. Such a beautiful start driving along the Atlantic Highway with my son – it felt like it was the first time I was living the journey rather than the destination; time felt precious with Nick as did the moments of realising something wanted and imagined.
Time was ours to do with as we wanted and we did, taking a chance at each fork in the road, glimpsing fragments of seascape shattered by land and light as a reward. The beginning of an adventure – it was magical.
As was the university welcome in Whitworth Hall with the end of day light softening the edges of an urban world. Wood warmth without fire and a hint of a chamomile promise. Though, it didn’t take long to realise that West Penwith and friends were not far away with Donz Mine the first poem written here in Manchester.
What a contrast it is, this whirlwind of study and writing with so many art and cultural events seemingly part of the course.
So good to be back here with Shifting Sands at last – space for important other things.
This past week has been rather magical. The unexpected, seemingly expected all along. People met and conversations had full of such synchronicity.
Loose, ocean deep threads sewn in to the tapestry that I am; a making ready for the coming voyage from West Penwith to Manchester.
All, rather surreal and I momentarily question Lao Tzu’s thought that we each have the answer and know what we want. And The Unknown Self of John O’Donohue comes to mind who:
“At times, …will lead you strangely,
Magnetised by some resonance
That ambushes your vigilance.”
Certainly, it is Rebecca Solnit’s words that resonate with her suggestion that “That thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you is usually what you need to find, and finding it is a matter of getting lost.”
To explore, get lost and figure your way back – there is something in that.
More in the post next week.
Photo by Bundo Kim on Unsplash
Photo by Elena Ferrer on Unsplash
Oftentimes, I write with an image close by. It is the peg for what I will write and this, a realisation of that creative process.
She stands between the front and back of her dress. A peg. A name. A coat. A shoe bag. A doll. A hat. A box. A tent. A dress. Her dress for the wash, a day coupled with night. Her own creased packet in the bright early light. A peg on the line. Secure. Random. Free. Nonsense. Impression. Connection. In the wash. A washing line. Disembodied. Unarranged. Configured. Framed. Context. Urban climbers. Exotic dancing menageries. Paper doll cut-outs. Atmospheric choreography. Dressing up undressed. Suspended. Dangled. Naked. Significant moments. Remembered. Imagined. She repeats as she takes in her clothes. Logical. A pattern. A cut. Instinct. Form.
Photo by Ezequiel Garrido on Unsplash
Photo by Killian Pham on Unsplash
After what felt like forever in lives other than my own, I spent time with a friend in this beautiful land of Penwith and this poem, its imprints.
You hold still the wings of flight
To sound the start and end of light
Time cut on caterpillar ground
A glasshouse inside out till night
No open door nor window to scent delight
There the beginning and end in sight
A clustered sun hangs on the vine
Circled in the ring of your eye
A momentary love, a purple shrine
A sweetness with a seedless taste
An imprinted song plucked to sound
The Chaise Longue a dog-eared page
A breath forms a drop leaf to leaf
You wing air to shivering crown
A Blackbird on the vine
Bird photo by Balint Szajki on Unsplash
Vine Photo by Robert Erskine
Their hands cut you to shape. A vessel in their likeness to carry their cry crying life. A painted self. A disguise. Their want, to walk on water to a salted land. You, their keel. Now pivoted on wooden blocks on a concrete floor.
You, the open scroll, the life goods. There is no grave. You, lie in state and I, pay tribute. No name carved in stone, no burial mound in soil. I enter your decay, a salty forest floor and taste your vulnerability.
A circling of time back on itself, time and time again. Is this your unnaming, a giving back of their peril at sea? Their mind for your spirit. The decay. A slow rotting away.
The beauty in a flourish of colour peeled back bit by bit in light. The iron leaching and cragged path of worm, fungi and mite. You, crumbling in my hand as we stand in the place where river meets sea. A movement into something else.
“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way… As a man is, so he sees.” William Blake
Photos by Su Ormerod
During Quay Fair Day in Penzance, I met Ruby with Hannah. Robert Erskine came among us in this singular moment. This blog, our response.
I felt your hands
An open book
Deep set inside
A figurative pose
The centre point
A translucent light
In the pointed nib
An inscribed sound
A universal cry
In echoing chambers
Drawn in pushed out
A deep red summit
To an open touch
A deft conversation
Arched to pure sound
You tell me: ‘Tell me now
Give me your hand
Who are you?’
I give you my hand
To give me a sign
Of who I am
Hand in Hand
“Her hand was delicate but sure; the one hand manipulating my clumsy fingers urgently and repeatedly to create a pointing hand, with the aim of pointing it to me, and to herself, in order to exchange our names. She was deft – I didn’t know at the time that she is a pianist.
It reminded me at the time of a man I once met who was disabled to the extent of only being able to move his right arm and hand, with which he was able to type messages on a typewriter. His first words to me were: “What do you believe?”
Although the two disabilities were different, the girl and the man had the same message. Forget the irrelevancies of polite conversation, and go for the most important need; our most important need: Who are you? I want you to connect with me.”
Photo’s by Su Ormerod
An airless room, music holding a silent score. Words penned to a straight line.
You play in harmony. Strum a rhythmic causeway. An entry step to hearth, to home. An inlay pattern to the door.
A washing line hooked wall to wall, painted, hung out to dry. A secure women’s ward.
Clothes suspended on a Venetian breeze. Taut pegged slack. An unknown known tipping the tongue.
A string strummed to a pitch high on sacred ground. Windows a light to slated dusk of falling night.
A choral ensemble. Each voice a part, a whole.
You play an odd note. Disharmony, the invisible peg plucks air to sound the score.
An unknown knowing known.
Photo by Su Ormerod
Standing time. Her feet, at the bidding of her mind. She caught my eye as I stood still. She, stood too. It was the sea in her eye.
A push out wave gurgled as it caressed in-between toes. Curling curiosity laughed out loud. Her beginning in sand.
The beginning. Unnamed. Free. Hands of mother and mother’s mother full of sand. She lived the next moment of her life.
She came to be. In a push pull wave, footprints forming and unforming. Creativity in motion. Nameless.
She scampered, a swashbuckle uprush wave.
Photo by Su Ormerod
When I think of being on the edge, I see a penny at the front of a coin pusher. Methodical movement back and forth, seemingly waiting for something else to tip the balance.
A mechanical tide moving metal like the cars I try to ignore, as I walk along the seafront to an art exhibition of invisible narratives. The sea on the left and town on the right.
There are waves projected onto a book of empty pages, on a desk with two radios. Each, broadcasting one voice. A monologue on the lack of dialogue in place, space and time, of what’s natural and what’s man-made. An installation.
Each, ignorant of the other, voicing over and over each other. A backing track of urban instruments. A constant throwaway into breaking waves. It feels like chaos.
The penny drops.
I walk back on edge.
There are no sides
Photo by Ameen Fahmy on Unsplash