Waking up


 
1.
In summer, the green comes fast –
an eruption of colour,

– a bit like the heat,
which moves from 20 to 30
in a matter of days.

2.
Slowly, I adapt…
releasing, shedding and purging;

letting go of long-held emotions,
metaphorical handcuffs,
and sharp-edged things.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Unexpected gifts


 
All around town,
balconies drip plant pot water
into the street –
forming puddles where,
for weeks,
we have had no rain.

Passing underneath,
I get caught on the head:
a blessing from the sky.
Which helps me later,
when I am blessed again:
only this time my benefactor can fly. 

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Romantic notions

image
 
In summer my hair has
only one style: back.
And if it weren’t for winter,
I’d chop it off entirely.

That, twinned with the fact that
every time I mention it
my boyfriend pulls a face,
strong enough to put me off.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Dilemma

image
 
At 40 degrees,
the temperature is oppressive.

Standing in the pool,
lengths requiring more
than I can willingly recall,

I wonder whether I ought to
sink or swim?

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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The morning after

The morning after the full moon
there are seagulls everywhere
and crickets cling to the breeze.

The trees are alive with feathered song,
and somewhere far away where I cannot see
a cuckoo speaks.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Tree Monkey

In summer, the tax nomads come to town,
rich from their time at sea.

I watch as they fill my favourite places
swapping one form of confinement for another.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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A villa with no neighbours

image

August is disappearing, fast-slipping into September, and I can’t help being nostalgic about something I’ve never had: a summer like last year; days spent outside, cafés by the sea, bbq’s, a pool, a villa with no neighbours. I miss the peace. I miss the quiet. I miss the freedom… I know it’s not forever and it’s all still there, but my heart feels broken, weeping for something that has died. I can feel it now – raw, restless, enraged; rising and falling like a turbulent ocean intent on capsizing every ship.

I know it’s a test; or at least this is what I am telling myself, if only because it sits better that way. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Or maybe it does? By calling it a ‘spiritual’ journey; refusing the dis-ease and discomfort to be named – not properly, not ‘officially’ in a way I can’t later deny: I’m opening a window and in doing so discovering that in darkness there is also light.

And I know it might sound weird – it would do to me if I wasn’t who I am, if this hadn’t all happened exactly as it has – but I feel the presence of God more and more profoundly every day. There are subtle messages, unexpected gifts, encounters that introduce me to something new inside. A process of remembering, I am slowly returning to who I was before life (people, experiences and places) got in the way. And as I do, I am aware that I have company: an inner mother cat who stands in front of my heart, reaching out to hiss and scratch at anyone and everything that tries to intervene. I am getting to know her slowly and slowly I am making her my friend.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Things I would love to shake

There are feelings in my body that are new, that I haven’t previously experienced. And others that are overly familiar: things I would like to shake but haven’t been able to dislodge. The new ones bother me the most: their discomfort harder to shut off; I don’t have the reserves of experience that time permits.

I’m learning how to manage them – slowly, in parts. And in that process achieving both failure and success. Like so many other things: it’s a journey…

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, where I will be next year as a result, or if I will even still be here and who I will be if I am. I have changed so much in so little time. In a lot of time, I might not even recognise myself.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Snowmen in winter

imageBetter the devil you know than the prince you are chasing after. Better the life you have than the future you would like to arrive. Birds in the hand are worth more than mammals in the distance. Eggs more reliable assets than chickens down the line.

Thank God for what you have and count your lucky stars. Let absence take care of what is missing and providence provide. Tread softly around others, be mindful of their dreams. Give what you can to the less fortunate, take only what you need from those who can provide.

Think big, stand tall, set goals, climb skyscrapers. Plan ahead, take action, share often, do more. Walk with courage, run with enthusiasm, sit down with dignity, sleep with pride. Love each season as if it were the only one available. Embrace all weather, as if it were all there were.

Build snowmen in winter. Plant daisies in spring. Pick apples in summer. Make fires in fall. Smile at those who hurt you, laugh with those who don’t. Listen to your elders, teach your youth. Show those who are searching, lead them who would like to learn. Imagine it all different, then get up and take a turn.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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The Potential Possum and the Mostly Moon (as featured on Let’s Knit)

imageRead full-length piece.
Read Let’s Knit blog

Up until now:

The majority of my pieces are colourful narratives – bright, shiny and cheerful. They depict wonderful beginnings, beautiful middles and happy endings.

my textile work

My drawing, on the other hand, tends towards the opposite.

my illustration

Perhaps it has something to do with the tradition of the craft and how I see it: gainfull employment for hands that would be idle. It reminds me of classic novels and of women who were well-behaved. It is passive and quiet, undeniably elegant. It has no room for rage or despair; for the mess of external expression.

how I see the craft

Or maybe it’s because it was my grandmother who taught me and I see her as this shining light, someone who always managed to put a positive spin on things? Perhaps I am scared to taint her memory and infect her gift?

my grandmother

Or it could be that I am attached to the concept that we traditionally knit items to wear or use and embroider things to decorate and gift?

In trying to turn something ‘crafty’ into something ‘arty’, I am changing the rules and I think this attempted remodelling is where I have become tangled up. So this project is all about letting go.

Instead of having a vague idea of a theme for a piece, I shall clear my mind and work without attachment to direction or outcome, allowing my inner guide and my outer muse (the below-featured chihuahua) to steer the journey.


Something new:

Having decided to try my hand at something new, I decided it was only right that I use a new ball of wool and a new colour; that way everything would be different – the background, the method, the colouring. Worst case scenario, should I mess up entirely, I would simply fail to swim. And from the bottom of the pool, lake or ocean, I could float my way back up, either unpicking and correcting in order to continue or starting over afresh.

Sidar Snuggly Baby Crofter – Winnie (178)

I elect to make a plain square and begin by casting on 40 stitches. The purpose here was for the tension square to serve as a pseudo-type therapist; an entity both strong enough and reliable enough to accommodate my emotions, thereby enabling me space to temporarily switch off from all catastrophizing about the future in order to sit still and silent within the present. It kind of works.

40 stitches x 22 rows

Having completed my square, I am then ready to move on to the frame. This will serve to ground the square visually. It will also catch and hold straight the edges, which would otherwise curl. I have chosen to use white because it is clean and fresh and also because, being plain and simple, it won’t distract from what’s going on inside. The only complication I allow myself I limit to one row:

k2tog, yo; repeat

At the same time, I decide to approach the inside: the space where the story will sit.

Picking up my knitting doll, I select a length of yarn and proceed to make a cord, which I will coil in much the same way as with a coaster or mat. The process is quick, simple and meditative and I lose myself effortlessly to the rhythm of it.

My moon takes me three days: one to make the coil and two to decorate.

knitted edges and a spool moon

Next up, the focus of my piece: my person or animal. I have no idea what will come out; I simply pick up my needles and trust in the process. I watch with interest until it starts to look like a ‘something’ and then I intrude.

In this instance, the suggested is of animal inclination. Beginning as a cat, it later becomes a rat and then, finally, joyously, a possum. This feels right, reminiscent of my time in Australia and my love for the family of possums who lived in the trees surrounding my house. I loved watching them, constantly surprised that in their lack of dexterity and elegance, they never seemed to fall.

I give my possum a tail, slightly curled. Then I add two ears – one that sticks up, the other out. After this, I add a nose, a mouth and a cheek, all in various shades of pink. Lastly, I give it claws, a necklace and a bracelet.

my possum

Because at the moment it’s top right and bottom left with nothing in between, I decide to make a star, which, along with providing company for the moon, will help to balance it out. But as it evolves, it transforms into a flower – jasmine or honeysuckle. Knitted in mohair and angora, it is soft with a fluffy sheen. I decorate it in pearls with a single sequin at its centre, then surround it with more flowers, only smaller this time, made of pearl and sequin.

my star

Three feels like the correct number of elements for the piece, so I decide to leave it there. But something is missing. I decide to add some sequins and beads to the area beneath the moon. I leave their translation open to the spectator. To me, however, they are many things: raindrops, snowflakes, tears, shooting stars, meteorites, petals; their essence changing with my mood.

my moon

Overall, this piece has two levels. The surface one – which is sweet, playful and fun; almost childlike in presentation. And the underlying one – which speaks of hope and faith, goal and intent, apprehension and fear, sorrow and grief; of things let go and left behind, and of things yet to be encountered and enjoyed.

the potential possum and the mostly moon

I miss Australia: the buzz of the city, the contrast of towering skyscraper against colonial relic, the warmth of the people; Chinatown, it’s smells and tastes; the beach – Bondi, Manley, Cooggie, Bronte, with its bronzed swimmers and surfers, its vistas and cliffs; the animals – pelican, cockatiel, fruit bat, koala, possum, kangaroo; my house; the places I went, the experiences I had, the people I met.

Australia

I know that when I leave here, Mallorca, I shall miss the landscape, the sky, and the light; watching the sun rise and set, the moon wax and wane; spotting shapes in the clouds; counting the stars and looking for various formations, every so often chancing upon a lone crusader as it flies past on its way to earth. I shall also miss the peace and quiet, the land that surrounds my house and the walled orchard with its fruit trees: lemon, lime, orange, pear, plum and fig… each month delivering a new surprise.

Mallorca

In its intentions, this piece has been fairly successful. In telling a story that wanted to be told, it has given voice to a handful of emotions and feelings, setting some free while merely drawing attention to the presence of others. I have gained information and advice about necessary inner work and learnt that as well as grieving the departure of people, it is also important to mourn the loss of home and place.

Everything we touch, everywhere we settle, every experience we have… impacts upon us in some way. And whether small or large, pleasant or terrible, they need to be honoured and thanked.

This lesson shall go with me into the next chapter and the next piece.

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