Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wunderkamer: Theatrum Mundi


Catherine Heard has a fantastic "wunderkamer" exhibition at Rodman Hall in St Catharines, entited Theatrum Mundi. Much of Catherine's work exists in that place at the intersection of archetype, surrealism, vision, and myth which I find very resonant and powerful. And much of her work explores perennial interests of mine: the idea of transformation (of the body, of the identity), of substitution, even transmogrification, of imaginative tropes applied to the self and the body, the idea that our selves (our bodies and identities) are permeable to the imagination & that, how shall I say, objects, like imagination, don't always have cell walls. And so, after seeing this exhibition, I went home and wrote the following poem, inspired by the exhibition and by other work of Catherine's that I was able to see.


above clouds
and the stubble
of five o’clock trees

I’m neither one of my heads
nor my sparrow hands
trying to hold sky
at the end of arms

a human hair is the long tongue of the alphabet unwound

what curls in the snailshell of the mind
weeps from me as honey
the brain
a hive of tears

I inhale and breathe out bees
my face, reversing me
looking in from the outside

as I grow
skin falls on the mountains
and I six-toed as the valley trees
sing to myself in the blackbird cloud
my two mouths each with their own song

let’s go to the river
where the fishes fly
let’s go to the river
where my throat’s gill waters
cloud the atmosphere through which
the steady constellations peer


Pearl said...

Jem has a hyphen piece that you'd likely like

gary barwin said...

I did like it. Thanks for the link.

And in other news:

I think I'm going to ditch the last stanza of my posted poem. I do like the constellations peering through the atmosphere, but I think the poem works better without the last stanza.