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    art is tic and all the endings happen

    I’ve been thinking all my life about green and growing things and for weeks have wanted to see Wings of Desire for the millionth time just so I can hear the angel Damiel’s list of what he’s observed that day, especially “the schoolboy who described to his teacher how a fern grows out of the earth, and the astonished teacher” because the growing fern part always makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. And I’ve been thinking about how I love the word “efflorescence” and what it makes me feel and know, and about Dylan Thomas’s “force that through the green fuse drives the flower”, and about the poem I wrote when I was a teenager that started “Lichen and moss / I am lost completely” and wishing to go again to that lost green place.

    The most potent creation metaphor for me is that exact Dylan Thomas line above because it presumes the impulse towards creation to be involuntary. I very much like how the word “artistic” can be divided up to read “art is tic” because on a certain level that is exactly how I see it. Not that art-making is effortless or doesn’t require all sorts of thought and hard work and plenty of slogging it out in the trenches, because I know full well it doesn’t just happen, know full well it requires blood, sweat, toil, and tears in all too liberal quantities, but I love the notion that the need to make is so strong in some people that they have no choice but to heed it.

    * * *

    I am very breathless right now, surrounded by all the endings. More than one goodbye caught in my throat, so many words that can’t be spoken. They’re like ships, those words, ships run aground, except that’s not right because ships run aground are ships that have launched and moved along, gone somewhere, made progress, muscled forward by sailors and weather until keel has met silted sea bottom that forces stall. My goodbyes have moved past nothing, have not moved at all.

    Of course, the case could be made that at least one of these endings is more like the flowing of one line of poetry into another, or a new rung being gained on the good old ladder of life. I mean, yeah, the leaving home of a university-bound child is a moving forward, not an ending, really. Right? It is the child taking the next step, not the child bricking up the doorway. It is exactly the flower being driven through the green fuse; in my brainplace, I know this. I’m filled with gratitude to have had her here with me for eighteen years but I’m not ready for her to go, even while understanding that my readiness is neither the point nor the necessity. The fern will push up from the forest floor, just as it’s meant to do. Will push, does push, is pushing.

    Halley’s Comet as Seen by Giotto, 1979, Paterson Ewen. Based on the original in Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, painted by Giotto di Bondone, 1304-05.
    adiantum pedatum blossfeldt
    Adiantum pedatum. American Maiden-hair Fern. Young rolled-up fronds enlarged 8 times. 1929, Karl Blossfeldt. Via Luminous Lint
    The force that through the green fuse drives the flower, 1945, Ceri Richards. Via The Museum of New Zealand
    Shipbreaking # 9a, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2000, Edward Burtynsky
    From the Preoccupy exhibit by Margaret Harrison  2012
    From the Preoccupy exhibit, 2012, Margaret Harrison. Via Contemporary Art Daily
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