The Spider et le vide

Going away on a trip plays elastic with my sense of time. If I imagined my life like a long thread, a trip would be a fold in the line. If I were to follow all the way into and around the fold-line it would seem very long, but if I jump from my departure point to the returning point, the gap is very short. One week away with Paul to the south of France was both short and long. The Mediterranean Sea kisses like the mother of all seas -so very salty, so very blue, so very clear and warm.  It held me like a baby and I floated without a care in the world.

In January as I prepare to return to Montreal these six months in Paris will seem long and full like a whole other lifetime and yet as soon as I walk through my front door at home, I imagine it will feel like no time at all has passed.

Today, I am in the lap of a warm, sunny, autumn afternoon watching the light fill my studio. I cut letters from paper to make words and fix them onto the windows. The sun projects the words as shadows into the room and I capture them on video. The wind shakes the leaves in the trees making the words jump and dance and as this spot on the earth moves away from the sun, the words creep across the walls and the floor. One moment slides into the next moment and together they stitch into the minutes and the hours of this day and I sense I am trying to capture something barely visible. I look for a small glimpse of that moment we rush to call now. Magnifying time, I look for its neutrons, electrons and photons. It feels like almost nothing. In order to see it, I have to stand very close or very far away. A ‘now’ spun in spider webs, visible in just the right light, I write so many words to find the very few.

Afternoon slips into twilight or – ‘entre chien et loup,’ that wonderful French expression of the shift in light and mood -a time ‘between dog and wolf.’ The moon is full and glows like a button I want to reach out and push; the air is sweet. Now the lights from the bateaux-mouches filled with tourists will pass by each hour down the Seine and shine onto the building making the words on my windows run around the room.

I always thought that light bent. Paul, tells me that it moves in a straight line, absorbed or reflected by the objects it meets. He would know that, being a photographer.  Flying back to Paris late at night some weeks ago from Berlin with my head glued to the window, the moon broke through the clouds. Like the headlights of a car turning corners, the light raced around the turns and spills of the rivers and a night landscape opened up below.  Approaching Paris, it began to rain and the lights from the airplane caught the billions of raindrops flying horizontally off the wing. They looked like television snow, only inversed- white on black.

From my bedroom window as a child, I looked out across the fields and down our long laneway that led to the country road connecting us to the bigger road that led to the highway going to other towns. And when I lay in bed at night waiting for sleep, I watched the lights from passing cars come into my room. I watched them swing over the top of the door and crawl along the seam of the ceiling and the wall to disappear for an instant as the car climbed the hill only to reappear further around the room. From there the lights jumped, disappearing again into the closet. These lights were often my father coming home. And if the car came from the other direction, they swept around the room behind my bed to disappear out the window again, or if the car was coming from further away down the highway, the lights passed more slowly and shone much weaker. How could light from so far away penetrate my dark little room like that? It seemed like a very powerful mystery.

A word is a sound spun around silence. I throw myself like a spider and wait for the wind to carry my words.


êtes le gouffre

and I the spider

If I cannot speak of you with these words

je vous chercherez dans d’autres

mot après mot je lance

spin spun span

le gouffre

je touche