To the wandering artist

How many paths did you have to cross before you finally sat down to take a breath? Do you remember all your journeys? Or is that why you stay connected, putting everything around you into your poems, hoping to not leave a trace of anything behind?

I must admit, when I wrote the first of these letters I always thought I’d get to you at the end. But you insisted on being the fourth letter I write. The presence you had demanded that you find yourself in this space. Which is fine, but now I find myself with nothing more than simple questions.

Does your lens tell you stories? Does it twitch every time you walk past something that would offer a glimpse into your past? Or is it your senses that have been heightened, like a super hero you scan the skies searching for home. Is home anything more than a few messages in an email inbox, or a misplaced passport? Or is it a memory, seven boats in the past and locked away right outside the door to freedom?


My mum tells me often that humanity is born free but everywhere we go we are in chains. So it makes sense that you walk around with a hammer and a chisel, the muscles in your arms rippling every time you strike at another chain. Maybe, if we set everyone free, we will set ourselves free. What is freedom but another form of bondage? What is it to be free but to be bound to the work of freeing?

You’re tired, it continues not to end.

So you walk the streets, camera in hand, ready to find signs of freedom. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a ball sailing over a fence.  Other times it is a homeless person, searching. But even these signs, even these signs, even these signs continue to rob something. Continue to romanticise an other’s existence. Even these signs are misinterpreted and now there’s a roomful of people who came to see the movie and have only found life.

These people continue to ask you what time the movie begins. After all, you do carry a camera.

But real life is not shot in CGI with special after effects to be viewed on iMax 3D. Real life is a hug and a cup of tea. Real life is the silence of stillness as the world continues to hurtle around the sun. Real life is a detention centre and a plea “kill me before you send me back.” Real life is a pair of strained biceps pounding again and again at chains that refuse to break.

You don’t tell them this.

You know if you begin to tell them this they will just reach for the popcorn  and assume that the movie has started. Instead you tell them “soon, the movie will begin soon.” And continue to look for signs of freedom. Now you have searched and your feet are weary, you cannot even remember how many paths you have crossed to get to where you are. But you are there, and you want to sit down and breathe, but the work of freedom waits for no royalty. And you are but a wanderer, the purple of your robe has long since been overrun by the dust of the journey.

But there is nothing in being unable to breath except a lack of breath. And broken bodies can no more carry broken bodies than whispers can hide secrets. There will be further healing to be done, and the struggle will continue. But, for now, sit, have a cup of tea and read poetry. Breath, rest, recover, repeat.

The world will be here when you get back.


A Dependent Observer

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