The post box is brim-full; a stack of letters, two TIME magazines, brochures and other junk mail. The surfaces of the damp envelopes are decomposing and covered with dried snail trails. Irrationally, the abundance of mail proves to me that an intruder had entered the property and peering through the post box slit I see my red kitchen chair thrown against the trunk of the jacaranda tree on the grass verge where my brothers park their cars. Further confirmation.
I run to the back garden, where I find my (naked) husband trying to fight off a large (fully dressed) man. I grab a pitchfork and pin the intruder against the sturdy grenadilla vine trellis. His eyes, when I finally look at him, are kind, bemused.
I now feel irritated with my husband – why is he not wearing any clothes? – who does nothing to help me, ignoring my frantic yelps to phone the police, or the security company. Instead, he crouches over a large piece of paper, his hands and thighs blackened from the piece of charcoal he’s holding. He explains that he is going to make a drawing to show the police; an agonisingly slow and detailed inventory of every little thing on our property.
The intruder takes the pitchfork from my hands and replaces it with an axe. A confused longing rises up in me when our eyes meet again; locked in a stand-off, we hold onto our weapons.
And then I am in a large field blooming yellow with oxalis. I walk towards a a small group of people, gathered in front of a dilapidated cottage. Mostly woman, except for one man, standing a small distance away. The group clusters around an elderly woman sitting in front of the entrance of the cottage, holding court. She looks like a stereotypical guru: long, uncombed grey hair, clear, dark eyes. Her many journeys have left deep lines on the kid leather of her face.
Her eyes seem to follow every move I make, especially when I walk to the man in the distance. He greets me like an old friend, immediately taking out a notebook from the bag slung over his shoulder. His novel, he explains, is finally finished. He radiates joy, and I can feel its bubbly overflow entering my veins as I listen to him dissecting the heart of his story. His words translate into images; one of them startles me with its clarity – of a woman striding through the dew-covered field towards us; naked, emaciated. Her lower torso, including her genitals, is a transparent diagram; a graphic, scientific rendering of flesh and bone and sinew.
This dream has walked with me for a few days now. The items my unconscious have chosen are unfamiliar to me – an axe, a pitchfork. I long to talk some more to the writerly man of the second half of my dream; I want to ask him about the diagrammatic woman amd why she was so thin, and so hungry.
After a small break from art making, I find myself back at my work table, surveying the damage caused by my absence. By now I know how this works, but still find it frustrating; the slow steps back to reconnection, my clumsy hands as I look for my favourite pair of scissors, brushes, pencil. I can’t find the treasured piece of linen I put aside a mere seven days ago, inspired by its dense and uneven weave. I try to find it by smell, sniffing my fabric basket for the earthy smell of flax.
Inanimate objects rearrange and erase themselves when neglected, I finally conclude.
Inspiration returns when I finally start working and stop fretting. Twenty small wooden discs that will form the bases of new assemblages are lined up on my table; petri dishes waiting for a fertile growth medium. Round shapes call to me at the moment and I find them everywhere:
collection of dried leaves and bark in a jar, viewed from above
moonstones in vase
domed dried artichoke flower
mushrooms in jar
I’m really happy with the texture of this piece of knitting – must now knit several circles like this.
Also happy with a new frame idea for my large assemblages – the result of having to fix this one after the top layer of glass was accidentally broken at a gallery.
It is indeed time to replace the pitchfork with the axe, I think now. Time to leave it next to the compost heap where it belongs (I know where to find it, should I need it).
It is time for action; for acting decisively and cutting that which is no longer useful. But reading this sentence makes me wince. It’s too brutal and unforgiving.
For now the axe and the pitchfork will just have to co-exist peacefully until I figure this out.