Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Prodigal: Origins

The  first thing I remember is the smell: turpentine, chrysm, ash; These are the smells of the self in the act of creation.
I come from the Isle of Yearn. My birth was hard and easy at the same time. Pushkin, kin push and here I was. All of me. I tumbled from her body into the nettle-ditch of her embrace and when I was red and howling for love, she fashioned  for me a tiny perfect babygrow of dock-leaves. After that we never looked back. We belonged together like the fret and the sea.
In my earliest memory, Alisha is in her vast attic, painting and I am in my corner, keeping watch. It doesn't matter because she is oblivious to the world. She has returned once again to the white painting, is busy reinventing its lethal purity. She fans herself with the torn off wing of a gull. We all remember that, of course. A cathedral of perfume arches over her, lofty, sprung with incense and air, the subtle salts of dead bird and sea-heather.
Outside on the windows, ice forms and melts. My mother is lost in the act of self-obliteration. Old clinkers fall from the sky, as though the stars have twirled too vigorously in their sockets, and I can hear the angels beat their mighty wings. Her brush releases its wild perfume. She breathes in light. As she paints she glows. She is inhabiting the continuous present, begrudging the future its moment. She paints the shivered dream, the heart's grace, the guilt she feels, bright as a fixed star. If it was unwatchable then it is unbearable now. I close my eyes. How could I have forgotten?

This is my mother, painting us all into being.

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