COLLABORATIONS

I am in this picture,
yet I do not know these streets,
the call of the klaxon will guide me.
Every time I will find this ship.
All the people I love and miss
are aboard, there is room.
We will set sail and return again,
and again to different bodies.
The geometry of our relationships will change,
we will return to be different, to be the same.
There will always be this ship,
I will find my way through these streets.
I am in the picture,
there is peace.

I've been working with artist Nick Richards for a number of years. Ghost Ship is an etching that really caught my imagination. I wanted to be in the streets of the city making my way towards that ship in the harbour. Because the city scape is imaginary then I could let my ideas roam as to what I would find on board.


Here is another etching by Nick.
This is the poem it provoked:



The water became air in our lungs
then tickle nosed,
mercury balloons that rise to break above.
Indian file we move through weed,
I see her back, concentrate so as not to trip
on starfish, or stone hidden in the silt.


As I break through the interface

the halo of my hair falls in the sombre tension,
I gobble air for the first time,
then see that blue sky and I know 
our journey will not end here.


This dog, now the first animal, greets us,

wades into the water, impatient for it to start.
This time, she tells me, there will be no snake,
no partition of world in to garden, not garden,
chosen, not chosen. Instead all will be cherished,
nothing will be wasted or spurned, all will be equal.


I am scared of her vision, her clarity,

of the simple way she talks of these things,
for this world seems huge, far more complex
even than the sea which gave us form.


Naked on the shoreline, this cusp of past and future,

she points out our direction, her hand sketches
the casual curve of the bay. So much distance,
she knows, she says, this will all take time,
I worry future filigree will obscure her simple pattern.
Generations to come now crowd around us,


she is almost lost in the press of ghost bodies,

I am far from sure the beauty of her words 
which she uses to define this new world,
will not be lost amid the crying of these future souls.


image copyright Alison Wilson
Alison Wilson was born in the UK but has lived in Singapore for the past thirteen years. Her art practice includes printmaking, drawing, and papermaking. Her artwork often reflects her interest in the human desire to make a mark on the natural landscape. You can visit Alison's website here.
I've been collaborating with Alison for a number of years on different ideas, You can see the Sketchbook Project here

The above image Slave to the Currents began life when Alison was in Australia. She found numerous blue jelly fish washed up on a beach. The local name for these is Bluebottles, because of their startlingly blue colour, though you may know them as Portuguese man o'war. You can read a post about the event here.

It was not possible to use any of the longer poems I was working on for the simple reason that each letter has to be scratched onto the etching plate in reverse. So my brief was to be brief. This is what I came up with:

slave to the currents
only travels where taken
illusory freedom

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