I decided to combine a piece I needed to write as homework for my MA in writing, and a piece I wanted to make for an audition. This is what I handed in, and I modified it (rather a lot) for the casting I attended today. I’ll post the latter and my thoughts on what needed to change for a live performance of this asap. Thanks to Gloria Sanders, Adrian Gillott, Cat James, Tim Atkins, Tessa McWatt for this version. Some of the text you might recognise from a piece I wrote about O’Hara for Chris McCabe’s class. Thanks to artist Lucy Pawlak who made Fogo Island possible in the first place.
Photograph by Lucy Pawlak, Fogo Island, 2013.
Directions: There is a lot of air in the room.
Blood-red trucks are good for being seen in on ice-bound islands.
Fogo is the largest of the islands off Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Fogo is Northwest of Musgrave Harbour, across Hamilton Sound, east of Change Islands, 49.6667° North and 54.1833° West. Fogo is thirty hours away from where I started. The sea freezes around Fogo.
Sea Song II
This is not Truth
This is what I think of you
At the Crossroads of the World
Past Notre Dame Bay
A ferry from Farewell
Hamilton Sound Islands
North Dog Bay Island
Did you break hearts everywhere? (in French, German?)
Will they think of you fondly, forevermore?
Do you know what you’re asking for, Man-O-War?
I matched your cold tuning fork song on a blue-sky day with no clouds above to keep us safe from
White light, Europe in parentheses very far away and cold.
You don’t like coconuts.
Not everyone can look up all the time.
Limbs tread water or embrace sky
Seldom Come By
Mon bel amour tragique, I want a Gauloise, now!
burn your postcard to your gods. I want lemonade, now!
Your hair is sunshine in the surf Leave me to be sad
We can only make our days alone
You see what love does
Yearning slows us down
At Halifax airport I spent eight hours:
- Weighing up the pros and cons of purchasing extremely sugary Canadian snacks,
- unable to find the live lobsters to look at. They’re available to carry home in cool cardboard boxes.
- Eating at McDonalds after the sniffer dog found ham sandwiches in my luggage, and
At Gander airport, once called the Crossroads of the World, I lay for five hours staring at:
- Slow-moving, unnecessary ceiling fans
- Sepia-tinted depictions of past lives and aeronautical discoveries lining the woodchip walls
- The bounce of tiny, garish flashing lights of a children’s ride in the scratched plastic of another.
I dreamt of nothing in particular. I rode in a taxi for a dark hour at 5am through flurries of snow. I looked out for seals on an old ferry breaking through the icy sea past Change. I arrived at one of the four corners of the earth and looked out to sea. Everyone on land had a blood-red truck.
I am always at the wrong parties, Duncan Cameron said once, on the fast train to Paris. I am always heartbroken, Jonathan Swain said over a large hot chocolate with mini marshmallows on the banks of the Thames.
Lobster Call II
Wide-angle wisdom says,
- Capture all in Love, love!
- It’s black or white and simple, sunshine
- Gods cannot be more attentive
- Nostalgia is a disease
- Yearning slows you down
- Output whimsy engenders devotion
- Output hardness engenders devotion
- Stars are forever without help
- All power is loss, and
- Do not burn out.
Who else is nostalgic for a forgotten tropical hometown, all crumbling pastel buildings, fern-invaded shophouses and dirt roads? Everything’s too hot to move, but we’re easy in our sweat, flesh and smells. Skinny coconut trees promise the muddy sea downtown. Remember the pock-marked sand shifting with thousands of tiny, nervous, translucent-grey crabs? Desultory dogs, stump-tailed cats, sand flies and cows ignore us. It’s foreign and we’re free.
I imagine the train that slices through rainforests and mountain ranges, a long diagonal across the peninsula. An early morning mist lifts over picturesque old women with leggy village chickens as hostages in rattan baskets. Brown-skinned children with bright eyes trot barefoot and wave us off at each station, following the slow train for miles as it too is in the tropics.
With the invention of trains came the invention of shared time. Our brains didn’t explode from the experience of speed and the universe didn’t buckle when we left our homes.
Buffalo Moan II
On frozen Fire Island
Off the swiveling compass
At the bus-stop at the end of my street,
Under the mango tree
the flat earth is spinning on a stick
I’m on the move again
New friends are always beautiful
This is absolutely, categorically, unquestionably, indefinitely
The wrong way
Hobo stands for “homeward bound”.
(c) Oct 6 2013 Vera Chok
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