ii. Art

Visualizing: the painter in her many layers: cotton, wool and fleece, an outer layer to break the wind, thick socks in practical boots, hybrid gloves – the kind where the finger tips detach and bend back to grip Velcro fasteners, leaving thin fingers free to freeze solid.

She stabs her stubby, short bristled brush into the orange, yellow, red, white, green, squinting in the dying light, painting more by feel and memory than sight. The application of paint is reassuring in its methodical swiftness, confident and direct, devoid of hesitation. The basic physics of the equation are those of a crafts-person, building a picture as one might a chair – the first rough cut, before the joining and sanding and polishing.

There are some of those on the wall too, quick sparse sketches, laid out in wide utilitarian strokes, slapped down in a hurry while the light lasted. They lack the glow of the two finished paintings; the canvas lies flat against the uneven bricks, no real sense of depth, despite the hasty blue shadows thrown across the snow, the flash of winter sunlight on the south-facing wall of the farm house – a depiction not so much of a specific building, but rather a symbolic representation of the idealized form of the southern Ontario concept of House: a sturdy rectangle with a triangular roof, three windows and a door, smudges that might be pine trees cozying up to it on either side. The sky is two shades of blue, the brush strokes reaching from ground to sky, as if following the memory of the last time the aurora borealis enveloped the house in dancing green fingers.

Flying with crows

Oil&Light_byMarkAHarrison2017_med

Oil & Light by Mark A. Harrison

flying with crows

I sometimes imagine
I’m flying with crows
over autumn fields
and deep river valleys
telephone wires catching
the last of the evening sun
shining white mercurial fire
against the slate dark sky
hills lying like a giant’s body
elbows crooked, cradling a head of stone
how long does it take
for forests to grow up and cover
this still sleeping form?

I don’t believe in miracles
or divine intervention
the universe is what it is
but if I could find the market
where they sell time
I’d find the merchant with the cold, dead eyes
the one who never smiles
and while his back was turned, I’d steal
as much as I could carry;

I hold onto each year like it’s a ledge that’s crumbling
I want to reach out and strangle time
want to steal more than I’m allowed
I have so much more I want to do
but someone cut the brake lines
and here I am, reaching out for anything
to grab onto, to stop this insane headlong rush
I’d write myself a thousand lifetimes, if I could.

– T.H.

(a shortened, edited version of a poem I wrote when I was eight years younger than I am now)