Saturday, March 12, 2011

Carving and Keeping - of butterflies and hope

I feel a little nostalgic these days, looking back on a trip to Nashville, I remember the fizz and the sweetness on my tongue of my fantastic drink (photo above). I'm reading Carson McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and I wonder if this is what has triggered the sense of nostalgia. I think, then, of the connections - the world between the pages and distant sensory memories (the fizz of cola, the cold of the ice-cream, the heat of the burning sun) - and think again of the carving and keeping of shapes, of butterflies.

I wonder if Annemiek will keep the butterflies she has carved out.

The bowl they will have created will have a purpose and a meaning, after all. But the butterflies….?

I see them on a transparent string hanging in front of a window where the sun shines in, too bright to look at. There, they have found themselves: they are literally themselves.

Shapes of butterflies in the air, glinting (I think: she’ll paint one a metallic silver, the other a metallic gold – the moon and the sun).

Glinting, glinting, glinting.

Hope, hopefully, hope.

In each turn of the head there is a turn back, a way back, an antidote. In each (form) that is taken away there is a lasting image, a memory. A memory of love. A memory of hope. After all, “Nothing is lost, when all in love lives on.” (Quote © Adele Ward, “For My Mother” from Never-Never Land (Bristol: Bluechrome Publishing, 2009)

And with spring there comes the promise of those butterflies, they are readying themselves now, waiting for the time only when it is right, waiting as timing is everything. And my story “Possessions” now ends with hope. The Ward Sister senses hope in the struggle the patient makes against an antidote to the overdose being administered. I write:

She sneaked a smile. This was good. He was fighting.

“Bless you, my child,” she said, her voice melodic with sorrow.

© Shauna Busto Gilligan except where indicated.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

From despair to hope

Though the picture I had painted with my words was bleak, in it, Annemiek had picked up on the glimmer of hope. Out of despair comes hope; a constant, the other face of fear is hope.
This is something, of course, that organisations working in mental health and suicide prevention such as the wonderful SOS (suicide or survive) concur with. There is always hope.
Even when one thinks of going or when one has gone…somehow the human impulse is to find hope. And this, of course, is what Annemiek captured so well in her escaped butterflies and, even more striking, the imprint of what once was: the butterflies gone.
On Saturday the sun shone.
I lay back on the bed watching the sun on the bare-with-buds-branches. I read an entire poetry collection.
I hadn’t intended to. But the words drew me in.
From the wonderfully captivating title Never-Never Land I felt I had noiselessly landed in a place where words and sun spoke together.
The words on the pages and the sun that hit my eyes (I even held the book up to block it; to block that which I had been longing, longing, longing to see after the grey nothingness of winter). I wanted the words and the sun to speak; I was looking for meaning.
“When they can’t see me” held echoes of the disconnectedness that Sylvia Plath also expresses and that I have often felt. The narrator steps outside and observes her life from the garden through sliding glass doors.
            Everything is noiseless,
all framed like a scene from
somebody else’s domestic drama
on television, with the sound on mute.
(© Adele Ward, “When they can’t see me” from Never-Never Land (Bristol: Bluechrome Publishing, 2009)

Despite the disconnection, however, there is a quiet, steady hope. And it was through these poems that I was brought back to Annemiek’s butterflies cutting their way out of their ceramic entrapment.
I felt a sameness in the way we take meaning out of the things and people we possess. These things we possess – objects, live things, imagined things – are momentary and yet also lasting. Out of sight does not always mean out of mind as the saying goes. There can be deep connections between worlds and people we are told to believe are separate and unrelated.
In “Piazza Bande Nere” the narrator watches a prostitute while also watching over her sleepless baby. There is a beautiful unspoken affinity between the two women.
I worry over your empty slab
until your stilettos cross it and you
squat by a tree,
roll up your hem like a stocking
and clean out the last client.
2am. I put my baby in his cot
then stay here with you.
(© Adele Ward, “Pizza Bande Nere” from Never-Never Land (Bristol: Bluechrome Publishing, 2009)
And I thought again about the butterflies and how we always concentrate on their transformation into beauty. But beauty can also be lost. It is as fragile as life itself.
There is beauty, there is love...then there is not. There is freedom, something we take for granted and then as quick as we imagine a butterfly, it is gone: possession wiped away.
It is at that moment – the second we believe that we don’t have freedom – that the light goes. Somehow – as in my story “Possessions” – we are left with a list of possessions that amount to the clothes on our backs. But out of that list, the symbol of not possessing there is, still hope. Out of despair there is always possibility....
© Shauna Busto Gilligan except where indicated.

Bath and Butterflies

I wondered what Annemiek would make of my daring challenge.
I thought about the fact that we had adopted an unspoken rule of communicating via the blog rather than discussing how we would proceed or what we hoped to get done by a particular time. We let – in essence – the creativity lead the process and the time. And yet, it seemed to take a lot of strength or courage to do this – to communicate via a world wide web. Part of it, somehow, seemed unnatural or at odds with the process of combined creativity. Or collaboration.
And yet, seeing such a surge of response – something tangible, concrete something (unlike how I see words!) real made me realize that yes this to-and-fro business of stabbing in the dark does and is working.
Butterflies are, to many, a sign of hope. They are an emergence of something.
They literally are a growth, a becoming, an emergence of beauty from something which-is-not, which is doubtful and not-permanent in its form – from caterpillar to butterfly; despair to hope.
An image of a hill in Bath, England comes to mind: a circular row of houses, a view of the city, the sulphur of the baths, a movement or shift in the atmosphere, a becoming beauty. It's a memory from walking through this beautiful city in Somerset, something that the butterflies or the idea of butterflies has triggered.....