the room is quiet, the air is still

I’ve been questioning whether to post this. But this poem, these words, helped me get through some of the most difficult days last year. They helped me stand and claim my place, they gave me hope, and helped me honour one of the most important people in my life. I’m thankful for everything I’ve learnt during all the writing I’ve done over the last few years. It gave me the ability to compose something meaningful, expressive and true to myself.

My father died in August last year. I wrote this the day after, writing into the depth of night until it was finished.

I wanted to say something at his funeral, but had so little time to prepare. So I drew from a couple of earlier pieces just to get started, then continued to create something new and special just for him.

When it came time to read it at the funeral the next day, I shifted from feeling nervous, to feeling strangely calm and almost confident. I could feel the silence in the room, the quiet attention. It was afterwards when the hearse drove away that I felt that falling feeling, the sense that you could collapse onto your knees and wail. Perhaps if I was somewhere else on my own, I would have done just that, pressed my hands down flat and keened into the earth. But the concrete entrance to the funeral home wasn’t the right place.

I keep having this sense that there is some symbolic ritual that needs to take place. I don’t know what it is, and it hasn’t happened yet. I thought there might be a sign, something that would suggest what I need to do. Perhaps a dream, but in fact, I lost the ability to dream for months. They’re back now, but he hasn’t appeared.

I’m thinking that I need to stop waiting for a sign. He came to me once, many years ago, and I treasure the fact that he re-entered my life. Perhaps this time, I need to come to him, find him somewhere in the bush, in a river, in a garden. I’ll speak to him and thank him for his love. Perhaps then he will visit in a dream, perhaps he needs to feel invited.


Inspiration Map

My first attempt at an “Inspiration Map”.

I first saw one of these created by @shewhois on instagram and thought it was a great idea 🙂

From top left:

  • creative souls, David Bowie
  • the wild green world
  • strong women, Frida Kahlo
  • myths/archetypes, Jean Shinoda Bolen
  • colour
  • memories, dreams
  • symbolism, fauvism, Marc Chagall
  • spiritual thinkers, John O’Donohue, Anam Cara
  • details and patterns.

And just today I learned of the sad loss of Marion Woodman – she belongs in more than one of my nine squares.

finding peacefulness

Some days I get home and my head is spinning with people I’ve met, notes I need to write up, extra unexpected tasks suddenly announced – things to do – things to do – and never enough time. 

Today was one of those days – and I could feel anger rising in response to feeling overwhelmed – that’s a good thing for me – I used to just get lost in the overwhelming. 

But anger is not something I like to feel – so – I took my camera and walked outside into my overgrown garden – trusting there will always be something there to help me calm and quietly breathe. 

This beauty looked up at me – pale and peaceful in the twilight. 

Is there really anything to worry about – nothing that won’t wait til tomorrow – for now – I will lose myself in amongst the petals and dream. 


3 day quote challenge : Day Two

So – just disrupting the challenge here – knowing I’ll be busy tomorrow – hence two quotes in one day 😉

Day Two

from the poem “The Thought Fox” – by Ted Hughes (from his first collection “The Hawk in the Rain”, 1957).

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.

The fox as a metaphor for the imaginative process. This last stanza – the moment when the poem itself is written. I’ve always loved this poem, and I think it has informed my own strong affinity for metaphor.

I’ve always thought of the fox in both a literal and metaphoric sense. As alive, as real, something the poet may have seen as he looked out into the dark night, and at the same time, visualised it as the poetic imagination, the creative energy that wakens when the poet seeks to begin a piece of writing. The vital imaginative energy of the fox enters the poet’s mind. The fox representing something wild and dark and mysterious, a tentative essence that cautiously moves closer until it chooses to enter the poet’s head.

This metaphor represents the idea that the poem comes from somewhere beyond the poet, some kind of mystic, supernatural inspiration. Poetry, any kind or writing, is also a lot of really hard work, it takes a conscious effort on the part of the writer. If we waited for inspiration to walk out of the night, we may never bring anything on to the page. I think that writing is a balance of the two.

What I find even more interesting is Ted Hughes’ description of how a fox came to him in a dream. He was struggling over an essay and finding it impossible to write. When he finally slept, he dreamt of a large fox that walked upright, its fur burnt, as if it had walked through fire. It placed a bloody paw on his paper and said “Stop this – you are destroying us”.

I wonder who was meant by “us” – his unwritten poems perhaps?

Fox as real living creature, poetic metaphor and Jungian dream symbol. Something to investigate…