When soldiers returned to father the Boomers,
this house had a miniature door
for bottles to enter full and leave empty,
ready to become milk-opaque again.
After the rise of supermarkets, the portal changed to a window,
six milky panes slap-spackled into the brick,
intimate economies traded
for plastic jugs, sloshing bags, and Snippits.
Today, the morning rays tremble where hinges once swung,
and light is the currency of nourishment.
Absence has punched itself through the wall,
too impatient for the finesse of razors and chisels,
but too ambivalent to let tactless bricks
efface a window that frames the door’s memory.
Instead, like stained-glass bathing in an old story,
transparency releases pools of color,
visual sighs for the lost,
and prayers for the anguished strength
to roll back boulders from historic tombs.
Milk door to window,
necessary to obsolete.
What shines can seed the deepest soil.
And what empties to nothing
holds rivers of radiant ghosts
that shimmer, swirl, and eddy in aching gold.
A mosaic of stones, coins, and jewellery had been growing in our front garden box since May, but it wasn’t until late August that the idea for a heart border took root. Heart-shattered by the hatred in Charlottesville that led to death of Heather Heyer on August 12th, gathering these shards and bits of ephemera into a positive shape helped raise my spirits. A couple of weeks after the August mosaic-shaping, I was in the process of adding more buttons and beads when my neighbour and her four young daughters came over to look at the garden heart.
Hoping that mosaic-embellishment might be entertaining for the children, I entrusted them with my box of decorations and went to fetch some glue. I was very grateful for the girls’ collaboration, for thanks to their sowing of beads, bedazzling of flowers, and gluing of googly eyes, the heart mosaic became more alive. Before taking off for a dinner engagement that evening, I went back inside the house to gather more supplies and offered them to the girls for their own outdoor art. By the time I returned from the outing, a box of soil containing the gorgeous composition below was sitting on my neighbor’s lawn.
The children’s artwork affected me deeply, and I found myself wishing its creative faith could dissolve destructive ideologies once and for all. What if a box of dirt, flowers, and love could reach people like the 45th president who lean dangerously towards fascism? No matter their current spiritual condition, a Peace and Love Art Box could remind them that once, long ago, they might have lovingly spelled God’s name on a leaf with glue or promoted peace with pebbles, paper flowers, and pennies.
What stops humanity from planting love instead of hate when heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, Medgar Evers, and Heather Heyer paid for Love’s truth with their lives?
Although pennies are no longer in circulation in Canada, the forest economy is different. Last May I found a 1978 Canadian penny on the forest floor of Serena Gundy Park. I shifted it to a curved patch of moss for a photo and left it there.
Two months later, I followed the same trail, and to my surprise I saw a penny in almost the same spot! It was a different one though, stamped with the year 2007. It rested just beside the moss patch, possibly nudged from it by a curious animal.
Thank you, mysterious hiker, for creating an anonymous penny exchange! If I had had a penny with me, I would have extended the game. As it was, I took a picture and let the coin remain there for the next pair of wondering eyes.
Peace Flow emerged in August of 2016 as part of a Journey Dance dedicated to peace led by Shielagh McGlynn.
Sheilagh, Cate Laurier, and I started the piece at The Inner Arts Collective, and then I took it home to fill in some spaces and add finishing touches.
A year after Peace Flow was completed, Sheilagh felt called to offer another Journey Dance for Peace, and I joined her at Pegasus Studio for a reprise of the beautiful music.
A collage session followed the dance, which gave us a chance to catch up as we tore and cut selected images. We had an especially good laugh over using alphabet stickers to spell “Booty” in honour of what Macy Gray had encouraged us to shake in her song “Beauty in the World.” (The vowels e, a, u in the alphabet pack had been used at my last collage workshop, so two o’s were pressed into service to spell booty/beauty).
As time was limited at the studio, the piece went home with me for some additional work. In the process, a peace bird, a river, a dream fish, and a feathered dancing figure appeared on the circle of green paper.
Peace. Divine. Booty. All one for a harmonious planet!
On February 28th, I facilitated a collage workshop for Centennial College’s 2017 Teaching and Learning Symposium. In this one-hour session, I invited faculty to experience collage-making from the perspective of post-secondary students in the classroom.
Working individually and in small groups, nine participants gathered and arranged images to illustrate Centennial College’s vision statement: “transforming lives and communities through learning.” The resulting visions-of-the-vision-statement beautifully express what transformative learning means to our community of educators.