Saturday will be our last workshop in the series that have taken memory and all its guises as a focus. These workshops have been very well attended as midway through I had to add in two extra sessions. They have been a wonderful safe space to explore personal as well as imagined memories and projections into the future.
I would like to share a few examples here from those participants who have kindly allowed me to do so.
Thank you to Jennifer Wilson, Fred Lewis and Sue Spencer.
This first one came about from a workshop totally focused on the science of memory.
If you cut me in half,
Would my legs remember their way back?
Could planarian tendencies
apply to us humans,
If we really tried?
Do memories really run through us,
like Blackpool rock,
held tightly in each cell,
binding our past together?
The sight of an old haunt,
the taste of sea-salt air;
could this really all fade
with the introduction
of an RNA destroyer?
enemies of the state of mind.
Calming the crashing waves,
peeling back fresh-cut grass,
Until nothing remained.
The next two extracts by Fred Lewis, use the ageing of a book cover as a metaphor for life and in the second one we see behind the scenes of a ballet class, inspired by a recent article Fred has completed for Dancing Times, called ‘View From the Barre’.
No longer new, wearing the wisdom of time. Dirt and dust and sun have
taken their toll. Now clothed in the patina of the graveyard. It started
in Newburn but this is where it will end. A mellow decline, they will
outlive us all.
Feel the static, the sub-nuclear blast of new experience. Grasp the old
and the familiar, a shared atomic landscape stretching between us, hours
in the ballet class, view from the barre. Falling headlong, helpless,
through the shock of your reality, your husband, your unborn children.
Non compatible, AC woman and DC man, short circuits across the main
course. I feel the assured voltage of your different life, the switch
doesn’t trip, you laugh at my books, the spark fades. Part in the
hedgerows, a spoonful of elderflower posset for Cheryl, a dozen pale
pink roses for Paula. What did Chekhov say about the company of women?
Do we ever learn – still, it’s been a pleasure.
Finally, this poem comes from Sue Spencer, created from a workshop that used the sense of smell to arouse memory.
Sarah has been on the ward for over two years.
Every morning it takes two of us, forty five
minutes to wash, cajole, manipulate, titivate,
wash her tortured body. Chanel soap,
talcum powder, clothes designed to be worn
at cocktail parties and Newmarket Races.
Once we get her into her tippy-back chair
she demands a spray of her perfume.
A curtain the only barrier between us
and the rest of the ward, she shouts
if this ritual is interrupted. We bite
our tongues, try not to shout back,
remembering who is doing what here.