love poetry: the slug edit

Susie David

I offer words of love to water, and to the place where it emerges, streams, out of the earth.

One small book (precious), A Little Treasury of Love Lyrics – 1963, 79 pages, Pictorial pale blue dust jacket over red cloth boards, is lain on the moss bank, beside the stream — by the sermon-spilling water — for the duration of the loving seasons — one Spring, one Summer and a few stray dog-end days of Autumn.

Shadows run their light fingers over the words. Wind turns the pages as carefully as some are taught at primary school – top right hand corner, turn, and over gently to the bottom left hand corner.

The wind — I note in my note book — likes to flick through pages, at times half-heartedly, at times with a feverish riffling to find a particular stanza… This is some text! “How does it go again?” says wind. A half-remembered, learnt-by-heart — by ancient heart — turn of phrase when wind was young, was breeze, was tentative stirring of air, was unspoken longing. Lust. Must. Formed in the hot lung inhale between … ache-to-be-lovers.

And the dark shadow casts days of sunlight, and the bright searching rain soaks pages right through to the bone, through to the moon at her slivers, to the sharp crack of lightening, fix-ing nitrogen down into the memory.

Tiny trace-lings of fox marks appear under the cover of night. Stars read aloud. (Reading to yourself silently is a knack I never felt anyone need master.)

Each morning, like a new religion, I read a poem — selected by the elements — out loud to the water, to the water vole, to the air, to the mosses, grasses, reeds …to anyone who might be listening…

A snail occasionally visits. A small slug comes back with a gang — they develop a fondness for poetry, especially Christopher Marlowe’s The Passionate Shepherd to His Love: “Come live with me and be my love, And we shall all the pleasures prove… “ They devour the poem: — the page, and between the lines, the words, punctuation, vowels, consonants…
Edit. Edit. Edit.

One late Autumn evening, I retrieve the Little Treasury of Love Lyrics, cradling in my open hands, the dog-eared remains. A pair of slugs on the grass very slowly rotate in an ouroboros dance, enshrined in their love ooze. They remain in their embrace overnight; they are still turning, turning the next morning. Are they oblivious of, or sensitive to, their turning in tune with the turning of the Earth and all its multiplying sermons spilling of love?

 
 

Susie David is taking part in Radical Landscapes: Innovation in Landscape and Language Art at The Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington, Devon from 23rd March to 22nd April 2019.
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In support of the exhibition, The Learned Pig’s Spring 2019 editorial season is devoted to Radical Landscapes.

 
 

The Learned Pig

 
 

Susie David

After a BA degree at Middlesex University, Susie David graduated from the University of Plymouth in 2007 with an MA in Fine Art, where her process-based research into water and other elemental agents of indeterminacy began. She holds interactive observations at sites of the liminal using: pigment, pixel, wax, word… Eastern philosophies inform David's inquiry, spanning intimate human biology with wider ecology, and water metaphor. Her practice is based at her South Devon studio, but also near, on, or under water. Exhibitions of note include: Korea Geumgang Nature Art Biennale, 2018; Ephemeral River Residency, Dartington, A Global Nomadic Art Project, 2018; Residency, Bogliasco Foundation, Liguria, Italy, 2013; The Open Prize, Film Painting Award, Open Gallery, Shoreditch, London 2011 (shortlisted); Dust on the Mirror, Gallery North, Newcastle, 2011.