Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia. I don’t recall ever being here.
So I performed the piece below for an audition yesterday. I edited this down to be much shorter, and I threaded in the idea of food because part of the remit for the casting was to make something to do with food, not necessarily about it, but inspired by in or featuring the activity of doing something with food.
I brought in two plastic cups, frozen peas in one, and a pair of plastic chopsticks and during parts of the piece, I moved peas from one cup to the other, and laid out peas as I listed the various islands and place names.
An idea which anchors it for me is that food connects me to the land and also, really, to myself. A strange anchor.
As a piece on the page, I like it less as it’s more obvious – I chose where to punctuate the piece with food or food-related sensory references, and I removed much of the poetry which one can return to and mull over when reading, but not so much when experiencing live. As it was an auditon piece and not a solo show, for instance, I also made it more evocative and emotional. I am not sure at all about ending with the word “home”.
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. The sea freezes around Fogo. Fogo is thirty hours away from when I noticed I was hungry.
Sea Song II
This is not Truth
This is what I think of you
at the Crossroads of the World
Past Notre Dame Bay
Post a ferry from Farewell
Hamilton Sound Islands
North Dog Bay Island
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 very, very cold.
You don’t like coconuts.
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. You pick the one you want and they put it in a cool, cardboard box for you to take home for tea.
- Eating at McDonalds after the sniffer dog found ham sandwiches in my luggage and I nearly got fined nine hundred Canadian dollars, 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. We fried moose in red wine for supper. Everyone 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.
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. Every four hours we eat some more. It ties us to the land. Skinny coconut trees and salt in the air promises 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.
(No, we’re not. Nostalgia is a madness.)
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 direction.
Hobo stands for “homeward bound” and I am hungry for (home).