Open road Poetree
“I don’t think I will ever see/ A poem as lovely as a tree,” said Joyce Kilmer, way back in 1913. This quote steers through my head as, on the open winter road, arboreal forms rise up, dark and stark against the burnished* sky, trees like black ideograms, like speaking silhouettes of strength and solitude.
*Okay, so I admit I jiggled with the sky colour in Photoshop. This was the original…
Open Road Poetree
“…and then comes – question, is it?
Assertion, prayer, aria – as delivered
by something too compelled in its passage
to sing? A hoarse and unwieldy music
which plays nonetheless down the length
of me until I am involved in their flight,
the unyielding necessity of it, as they literally
Mark Doty – Migratory
“And the cobweb is the secret score/ To the music we are searching for.” Hugo Williams.
A boy on a bicycle rides along a difficult path, between a corridor of tall cow parsley and other vegetation; woods rear up in the distance and a hint of storm menaces the sky. I don’t know who the boy is – it was a serendipitous snap as he just happened to pass when I was sitting a distance away. The line of an e.e. cummings poem came to me as I watched: “man plays with the bigness of his littleness”, which evokes human hubris with deceptive simplicity. The boy in this photograph, though, is the inverse of that line – he plays with his littleness in the bigness. For me, the photograph seems to be about the humility and innocence of a boy alone in the engulfing largeness of the surrounding world, a world which appears intimidating but which he negotiates through determined play. I liked the photograph best in sepia as here the foreground vegetation and background woods joined up in a continuum, and the sky took on a more perilous tone.
I’m not sure why exactly, but I like to sit by my local river and try to name the various colours on its surface – pewter, grey-blue, cup-of-tea brown, slate grey, silver, sand, diamond glint, eucalyptus-leaf green. Just as the tidal river ebbs and flows, so the colours in it are constantly changing. Perhaps this is part of the appeal for me: an awareness of a visual transience, of an ever-mutable liquid canvas. The hues relate to the quality of light and to what is reflected in the water – sky, clouds, sun, trees, boats, houses, lampposts, passing people. In these particular photographs the colours and abstract forms put me in mind of pre-Hispanic textiles. Certain pre-Hispanic peoples believed that rivers and lakes were mirrors in which the gods could behold themselves. If there happened to be any pre-Hispanic deities loitering around this corner of East Anglia (UK) that day, I like to think they’d have been chuffed that their fabrics, if not their faces, featured in the river, even if for a brief time.