MOMENTS FROM MALIBU ARTS RETREAT

by Viveca Ohm

The rain drives us into the few indoor spaces with sufficient heat
where the smell of woodsmoke signals stories in minor keys
and quiet guitar chords give us permission just to be.
Just to be.

This is downtime, the release we need.
We are among strangers, we are among friends,
can share what we've never said before
because we've been plucked from all the musts and shoulds
into the most remote safety and shifting light.

The water is green, the water is grey, the water swirls patterns
like those we draw on paper in India ink
and then dance to.

The mountains are silver, shot with hairline cascades we draw
and doodle and trace on one another's bodies
to heal…to feel…to mend…to start again.

In the mighty kitchen steel machines wash, rinse, chop, slice, brew
while hands, all these overlapping
proud-to-produce, happy-to-help hands,
bring us more food than we ever need
an abundance that lets us be children again
cared for, secure.

Meawhile, a real child sits down at an abandoned table
in front of a plate of untouched nanaimo bars
and smiles.

Back at the studios, ferns
and shredded rags turn into wall hangings
empty paper turns into islands and faces of the forest.
Neglected nerves are prodded back to well-being
and scenes of pain and peace
wiped free of judgement.

The smell of woodsmoke, the sound of a seaplane heading up the inlet,
the churning of rapids in the turning tide
before the boats can proceed
this is all we need
A voice rising high behind the curtain of rain
the cascade spray on our cheeks
The colours we create are echoes of these.

Each night we sleep more deeply than the one before
while the curious camp cat scopes out open windows
in search of a warm body that will tolerate a furry companion.
There is always somebody
Each week brings a new boatload of beings
in search of their inner purr.


(with thanks to Sheila Page for helping to complete the last line)


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