Helen Davison

text in response to Alicia Radage - Bitter Seize 

This text is one of various commissioned responses to SALVAGE Festival; a day of performance art on and around the coastline of Folkstone during the summer of 2019.

︎︎︎ about SALVAGE

Alicia Radage, SALVAGE, 2019. Photo credit pending.

the sea drifts away observing calmly from a safe distance
broken memories line up waiting in anticipation for their release
plucked from their resting places edges smoothed by the pounding of water
unique in their stage of disintegration but bound together by the weight that envelops them

forgotten colours rise from a pattern of delicate scratches seeping onto the salt bleached surface
red fired clay yellow sandstone
mined worked formed and abandoned

bitter seize

my tongue works to displace the taste
trapped words erupt coated acrid and joyless aborted experiences without a dialogue to share them

7lbs you feel the weight your grip low on the shaft breathing deeply you ground yourself centering over your knees the arc swings out over the sea collecting the sky
it lands with a shudder
pushes back
shaking off the shock before another strike
it comes in waves crashing again and again
one life crashing in on another
crumpled ruins
dragged under

this is not my home
a phantom circles on the horizon waiting to pick off the stragglers reaching plucking screaming

it’s broken down to be rebuilt
they watch intrigued rubber necks hanging slack fragments of homes fractured lives
ground to dust

help me
pull me from the water

these structures bind us protect us break us

my muscles recall the familiar strain they twitch and flex
itching to take that weight from you

to unburden you
to unleash our collective fury and smash it all to smithereens

fingers entwined
palms press against palms tender blistered
points that connect you to me to us
to yourself
to traced lives
to the open sea
to the spaces beyond
to the spaces inbetween
to spaces only half imagined

7lbs pushed out into the world
wrenched from warm safe darkness
they suck in a breath and wail
what’s it like to feel air fill your lungs for the first time? the strange sensation swelling in your chest?

the rattle of mucus coughed out?
a need blooms sudden deep and urgent to gasp and suck in again and again

you gather up their scattered remains
press them in to yourself
hanging heavy in your pockets
your middle distended sharp shards poking out weight pressing on your throat

your voice is wrenched out into the ether guttural
striking open the silence
your presence suddenly overwhelming face reddening with the struggle

i feel the tiredness spread down your legs
the heat of strained muscles arms leaden and weak shoulders pinching growing tight

it hurts to breathe
to carry it
to need to carry it
leaning backwards under it

you don’t have to do this on your own

hand scratched
tide worn
metal beaten
pounded collected gathered united

a piece escapes makes a break for the water returning to the familiar rhythms of the sea
a moment’s respite
lazing in the last of the seasons sun

the waves whisper against the rocks calling them back the violence of its currents forgotten

fine particles stain the concrete raw and red
the ground is warm
it shifts under my touch my rippling in the wake the heat slips out
a gentle farewell knowing it will never return here to the same place irrevocably altered
we carve our stories onto the land
potent and invisible

promising to return

from the scorched earth delicate shoots inch through the cracks razed to breathe once more