It’s all very well to read and write. But you can go too far. They talk about what is ‘right’ and ‘honest’ but people look down at their plates if you say something is beautiful.*
. – Kirsten Farrell, The Vivisector Oracle (performance and multimedia work, 2015), based on a passage in Patrick White’s The Vivisector.


Think of all the people you have known, who have occupied the space in front of you.
Look for evidence that they were ever there, and mostly there is none -
only from those who scarred you, like your children, like the lover who knocked you down,
like your friend’s attempt at piercing your twelve-year-old ear.
As for those whom you merely remember, their intersection with you may be an illusion.
There may be gifts, of course – teaspoons, and plates, and gardening gloves, and jewellery -
but things are unreliable, can be switched while you sleep. Even photographs are unstable.  If the person is not here
at this very moment, what is to stop them denying the whole thing ? You may well recall the sound of shouting
or the taste of the worst tuna pasta in the world, but who is to say who was there in the kitchen,
if anyone was there at all? Something in you rebels at this, refuses to accept
the slate may be wiped over and over, that the slate is a slate and not a page.
But does this not also confer the freedom to forget, which is, like all freedoms, beautiful ?

*The quote used as the epigraph and skeleton for this poem was allocated to me during a personal reading of The Vivisector Oracle conducted in March 2015 by Kirsten Farrell.



the screen watches you touching it

a snail in a cold cave
          a clutch of dwarf moons | glowing in wait | over a bone horizon
                      a Menorah, a monstrance, a mortal altar
          a pair of spread legs, a flesh starfish, a flowering of pink wrinkled trunks
absolutions, oscillations, amputations
          blemish and split shadow | blotting | the obscene puppet show
                      knuckles butting shyly, blindly, into the light.

(excerpt from the SWIPE project by Caren Florance | Ampersand Duck 2015)


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