We didn’t find her – she found us.
She sniffed us out. The Fate she carried
Sniffed us out
And assembled us, inert ingredients
For its experiment. The Fable she carried
Requisitioned you and me and her,
Puppets for its performance.
She fascinated you. Her eyes caressed you,
Melted a weeping glitter at you.
Her German the dark undercurrent
In her Kensington jeweller’s elocution
Was your ancestral Black Forest whisper –
Edged with a greasy, death-camp, soot-softness.
When she suddenly rounded her eyeballs,
Popped them, strangled, she shocked you.
lt was her mock surprise.
But you saw hanged women choke, dumb, through her,
And when she listened, watching you, through smoke,
Her black-ringed grey iris, slightly unnatural,
Was Black Forest wolf, a witch’s daughter
out of Grimm.
Warily you cultivated her,
Her jewishness, her many-blooded beauty,
As if your dream of your dream-self stood there,
A glittering blackness, Europe’s mystical jewel.
A creature from beyond the fringe of your desk-lamp.
Who was this Lilith of abortions
Touching the hair of your children
With tiger-painted nails?
Her speech Harrods, Hitlers mutilations
Kept you company, weeding the onions.
An ex-Nazi Youth Sabra. Her father
Doctor to the Bolshoi Ballet.
She was helpless too.
None of us could wake up.
Nightmare looked out at the poppies.
She sat there, in her soot-wet mascara,
In flame-orange silks, in gold bracelets,
Slightly filthy with erotic mystery –
Russian Israeli with the gaze of a demon
Between curtains of black Mongolian hair.
After a single night under our roof
She told her dream. A giant fish, a pike
Had a globed, golden eye, and in that eye
A throbbing suman foetus –
You were astonished, maybe envious.
I refused to interpret. I saw
The dreamer in her
Had fallen in love with me and she did not know it.
That moment the dreamer in me
Fell in love with her, and I knew it.
Two intensive days working with Deborah Levy produced some really arresting imagery. We looked at Silvia Plath and Ted Hughes, in particular Ted Hughes’ poem dreamers. I really like the way Deborah works when looking at a subject. First the group collects as much information about the chosen subject as possible, following every possible thread. Then we split into smaller groups and discussed our initial reactions. Then we chose 5 words that had become important for us and we developed pictures and/or words based around these 5 starting points.
Oven – black, doors, soot, death camp.
Mirror – she fascinated you. You caressed her.
Doors – giant steel doors shutting down and leaving me less.
Gagged – caged, gagged and populated by the deceased.
Onions – weeding the onions. Making you cry.