When I was just
a little girl
My mother showed me how to
I could live like Alice does
in a wonderland.
At the time we drew them blooming from the earth
Knees dusted in dirt
All I could hear were their howls and screams.
As a woman
thinking on how I am plucked and tugged and wrenched and dislocated
I pat the soil around my babies and promise they will
come to full term
and, when the wind threatens to carry them away,
and knit themselves into crusts and crevices
for you to wonder at
when you are screaming.
Cackling and snortling the arrival of another day
as if to say
You’ve got to do it again you poor fuckers’.
In his laugh the promise of a scorcher
An ear drum and nasal cavity of insects
And a crusted, headlong, headstrong bitumen to navigate.
I don’t know where he pisses off to for the rest of the day
But he sure as hell doesn’t chortle when he’s in the thick of it either.
Ok. Let’s talk again about how we can help some men.
The sorts of rituals unveiled in today’s ABC report which take place in universities (and other ‘clubs’) have been going on for ‘100 years’. They don’t just demean women but, as is revealed here, often men too. There’s a pack mentality to these week long orientations… with no doubt many men in the pack also feeling conflicted and ashamed.
The findings in this article reminded me of an investigation I heard about last year… into what kinds of commercials work on those men who abuse women. It revealed that showing men the impact of assault on women DOESN’T WORK; but showing men what impact it’ll have on their relationship with their mates (that mates wont respect you if you hit women) DOES WORK.
Can we please look further into why some men need the bolstering of other men to feel better about themselves? Can we look into why some men think so little of themselves that they have to go ‘out’ (be reactionary, do what they think ‘other’ will like/ respect, hurt & belittle others to make themselves feel bigger) rather than turn ‘in’ and consider FIRST what is humane and what is inside THEM that would make them want to hurt other people.
can we PLEASE look even further into the impact alcohol has in allll of these situations. It is FUEL for so many of these incidences. CAN WE PLEASE TEACH PEOPLE ABOUT RESPONSIBLE DRINKING?
Image care of @sarahsophie of #womensmarch
We will crack peppercorns and rub them into our neck for perfume.
When we come to the corner where the stargazer lily edges over the fence
I will say ‘Lean in.
At the point you wobble
We will marvel at the tiny pebbles etched into your knee…
Until the sound of spokes and wheels meet your ears and I witness your ache for age to arrive
For when can you too pedal and glide?
As your body begins to weigh upon mine with the stories you’ve collected this, one day
Your hands will collect the back of my head so you can meet my gleam.
‘How is it…’
we will say
‘…all of this
This moment by Jack Ma at the World Economic Forum has been doing the rounds. Seen it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHt-5-RyrJk
He talks here about the necessity of arts education (and therefore artists) in a world that is increasingly being run by machines and technology.
He talks about the need for our education system to change.
As a teacher and artist I couldn’t agree more with what he suggests are the necessary skills we teach this generation.
I’ll let Jack do the talking…
“Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not join you on the bridge. And whatever their reasons you must leave. Because you never ever have to inspire anyone to meet you on the bridge. You never ever have to convince someone to do the work to be ready. There is more extraordinary love, more love that you have never seen, out here in this wide and wild universe. And there is the love that will be ready.” Nayyirah Waheed.
I was reminded of this talking to a friend yesterday.
This poem doesn’t need to come with a brittle ‘fuck off’ or a hazardous ‘swipe left’. A defiant and throw away ‘you go girlfriend / boyfriend’.
Though the way in which someones ‘not readiness’ can be exorcised in a way that causes great damage to self and other, one can find equal parts compassion for the person who isn’t ready.
BUT MORE THAN ANYTHING this poem for me communicates a need for SELF LOVE out there on the bridge.
Maya Angelou’s poem ‘I shall not be moved’ also suggests such a thing. Know what you want and do not be moved. Know what you are worth and do not be moved.
It is not about looking for something perfect ‘because you deserve it’.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT. WE ALL EXIST IN GREY ZONES.
But at the very least, having someone meet you with a joyous YES. Not having to ASK someone to meet you on the bridge, because, though asking suggests a vulnerability which is beautiful, it is crippling to have to ask someone to meet you there.
Do not be moved in self love… say
‘I am something to meet out here on this bridge and I think you are something to meet here too’.
I want to own beautiful things.
A hardwood floor
to sprawl about in summer.
that peaks on vinyl
that animates the air
before it has been seen.
I want to reside as a dangling bra strap on your shoulder
My eyes to default to the furrowed creases between brow and bristles at your moment of O
My mouth to savour the bare breaths
when you part
I want every pen indentation
to arrest with intonation
that mornings lathering of soap
The groan you couldn’t help
And that era when my name
sounded like love.
I don’t want
to see the lakes surface quivering above her privates
damp clumps of moss mat beneath my bare arse
And to curl
as they drop
in the air.
Last night I sat opposite my therapist lamenting the days where I used ‘in-between time’, creatively. Where I used space in a way that saw me
…making jewellery my mum still affectionately wears
…painting images from thin air
…composing symphonies I’d try to articulate on the family piano
…reading in a way I’d miss outside sounds, too deeply immersed in the world I was creating between words.
Lately I’ve been desperately searching for ‘next’ meaning. I say next because I have had purpose before; but at 37 I am ready for something new. I am hungry.
Where I have turned to craft for searching in the past I now turn, like so many, to the internet. Sometimes two devices at a time. The internet is, after all, for searching isn’t it?
But for the first time in my life I’m not finding any solutions.
In the age where we have an overwhelming amount of sources to seek ‘answers’, this seems an almost impossibility. But never have I felt more incapable, more unsure and more anxious.
Two cereal boxes. No stress. Ten cereal boxes. Anxiety.
Where it is considered ‘lucky’ if you are in the privileged position of having choice, our brains, in contrast, feel great pressure; and so when I turn to google for an answer say to a ‘next job’ question, I suddenly find myself with twenty tabs open that might stretch from ‘next job’ to …next travel opportunity, next retail therapy adrenaline rush, next social exorcism, and finally, next movie on Netflix.
Today I’m wondering…
What did I find without a phone? Without a laptop? Without the internet?
Sometimes, more questions.
Sometimes, deeper ones.
This ‘knowing’ wasn’t necessarily an answer in the way that we regard ‘answers’ in 2017. It wasn’t an immediate fix (in the form of a momentary high), a presumption that everything is black or white or that success would be born of it in a way that would see me known and recognised by many.
It was that ‘elemental’ feeling. The one Sir Ken Robinson talks about. Where I am in something that is intrinsically me. In and being and doing. Creating.
And there was simultaneous peace in that experience and great energy.
And that energy …used to carry me over into the ‘next thing’.
In my mind now I am trying to cultivate that feeling so I can investigate it more. I can sense that it’s about being present, about listening and about commitment. To one thing. Not twenty tabs.
In Krista Tippet’s ‘On Being’ podcast , where she interviews philosopher and poet John O’Donahue, she asks
‘…are we less capable of love and commitment and relationship in a mature sense, in our time than previous generations were? Or is this just a human dilemma that has different details in our time?
MR. O’DONOHUE: That’s a very interesting question. I don’t think we’re less capable at all. I think we’re more unpracticed at it and therefore more desperate for it. And I think it’s a matter of attention really, just attention.
In doing one thing I am attending to it. I am committed to it but not in a way that word seems to strike fear into the souls of many these days (those swiping left and right on Tinder, buying the next phone when there’s nothing wrong with the old one)… but intimately devoting myself to it, so I know it, so I am faithful to it.
I laugh here because I wonder if I too need to explain what I mean by faithful here. I certainly don’t mean to conjure up any notion of religion. I mean to imply – ‘true’ – in an affectionate way, and in a way that doesn’t require any effort or sense of obligation.
In looking into the etymology of the word attention I find that it stems from the late 14th century meaning ‘ a giving heed, active direction of the mind upon some object or topic’. It is the ‘giving’ and ‘active’ part I am so deeply excited by. Bubbling thinking to the words I used earlier – ‘energy’ and ‘peace’. For giving, hands over something. An exhalation. A kneeling. Peace.
And ‘active’ implies action. Doing something. Creating. Which of course we need and use energy to do.
So answers can be found in the space between letting go and creativity. Between emptiness and fullness. The space I think here is the important part as our brains can have some time to file here. To see if an answer can be created from all the information we already have at our disposal. Information that is personal to us – information gathered by our own personal histories, our own experience.
Online answers should perhaps only be looked for after one has spent time and space with oneself. When one has found personal knowing in intimacy.
This moment, in intimacy, I found that I need a long walk in nature.
without my phone.
By Kate Ellis.
Kate Ellis is a Writer, Poet, Drama Coach for television and film actors and a poetry, drama and literacy teacher to primary and secondary school students at a progressive independent Primary and Secondary school in Victoria’s Eastern Suburbs. Residing in Melbourne but working across Australia, Kate has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Media and Sociology (UNSW), a Performance degree (Nepean) and a Masters in Education (University of Melbourne).