Sunday, July 7, 2013

three chairs

My son Finn is four years old. Today he seems to be the perfect size to fit the white chair. But he seemed the right size at age two, and I know without a doubt that he will fit the chair at eight.

He just called out to me ‘that is great music mum, what’s it about?’

                ‘It’s about three chairs love, three chairs before the fire. ‘

                ‘Our chairs?’

Yes my little love, our chairs.  I am in the one scrounged from the side of the road. One scrounged because it was a perfect  though slightly smaller version  of the one we’ve had for ten years, that was built by my Grandpa Ken in the early nineteen-fifties before living out its mid-life with my parents.  Both of these chairs have that simple modern design of a leaning back, tightly padded  seat under velvet, then arms of curved timber that roll in big semi-circles before falling  gracefully to the floor to become legs.

The third chair?  Well it was made by Grandpa Ken in about 1969, for my brother Dean who is oversees now having travelled away for his 46th birthday.  The white chair was always there.  It is a perfect little man’s chair, like a leather office chair with a tall back, side panels with curl-over for arms, and a neat and modern shape. It is made of nineteen- sixties marble-white vinyl, and has those teak legs like inverted cones that end in gold caps.

I used to watch my brother as a boy rock on this chair in front of the telly, shows like ‘Matlock Police’ or ‘The Sullivans’.  For years it was covered in ‘3XY’ or ‘EON FM’ radio stickers. Or a Bombers scarf. Or Dean’s footy duffel-coat adorned with the numbers of players for Essendon.

And now so many years later it lives in my son’s room, cleaned up enough to look new, dragged into the kitchen-lounge for open-fire days.

When we lit the fire today Finn got excited and clamorous, climbing the chair. I wanted to say ‘be careful’ but checked myself.  This chair was well-made for little guys and it had balance built in. It’s almost un-topple-able, just as it seems unstoppable.

I sit, fire blazing, in amongst this triptych of chairs. I sit in their story.  My Grandpa.  My brother as a boy.  My boy as a boy seated in his history and family narrative. The addition of the chair found by me and my husband adding its own newer story-thread.

In the settling fire potatoes cook in foil. My husband and son make a Leggo ‘super-monster-truck’ that has a lot of spoilers.

Later we will scoop out the soft inner potato and pop in butter and salt.   Riches enough, good things aplenty for a cold Melbourne day…

Friday, July 5, 2013

Woman to Man

Woman To Man   (Judith Wright)

The eyeless labourer in the night,

the selfless, shapeless seed I hold,

builds for its resurrection day---

silent and swift and deep from sight

foresees the unimagined light.

This is no child with a child's face;

this has no name to name it by;

yet you and I have known it well.

This is our hunter and our chase,

the third who lay in our embrace.

This is the strength that your arm knows,

the arc of flesh that is my breast,

the precise crystals of our eyes.

This is the blood's wild tree that grows

the intricate and folded rose.

This is the maker and the made;

this is the question and reply;

the blind head butting at the dark,

the blaze of light along the blade.

Oh hold me, for I am afraid.

 This poem by Judith Wright has been with me all my adult life. ‘Woman to Man’ is possibly my favourite poem; it is certainly the one I have most used, for learning, to feel another’s empathy, to be comforted by. It is a poem that to me has always had a kind of grace, and it has bestowed that grace on me many times.
I came across Woman to Man when I was seventeen and studied it with one of those rarely gifted teachers. We talked in class at length about the abundant sexuality and sensuality, with the female teacher discussing her own awareness of the sex-act that had conceived her son.  We got graphic and spoke of the ‘intricate and folded rose’ of the vulva and the womb. We knew the ‘blaze of light along the blade’ to be both ejaculation, and the cutting of the umbilical cord. That ‘the blind head butting at the dark’ was both the penis during sex, and its ultimate outcome, the blind head of the babe in the darkness of the womb.
It was a relevant age to find this poem, as it resonated through my early sex exploration. It helped explain why and how my body was designed, that in fact pleasure is part of the great design, and that the great design seeks only to replicate life over and over. It made me feel my body was quite sacred and that my pleasure was part of the design of life, even if I wasn’t ready or desirous at the time to bring forth that life.  I watched a documentary once that showed the cervix up-close during female orgasm, how it gulped like a little mouth to draw in the sperm, so functional and effectively designed.  
Years later I read the poem again and again as I and my partner faced conception. The first time- not wanted and terminated in a hospital procedure when we were young and powerless. Then the other times of conception, two, three and four, when all we wanted was for that embryonic potential to survive yet it did not.  That is when the line ‘oh hold me for I am afraid’ took on different meaning, where sex  was for life-creation and it promised hope or the despair of miscarriage. Then the conception that closed a loop, righted the universe in my womb and put life and light back in to bring forth ‘the third who lay in our embrace.’
The poem has been with me all my life as a signpost to that which is erotic, spiritual, romantic, biological and paradoxical between Woman and Man- that even as we are drawn to the embrace and its potential, we fear it. ‘Oh hold me for I am afraid.’