house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


Three mosaics in a Portuguese house.

A little one, a fish for my man
glued together from broken stuff
It waits, wrapped in-a-towel in-a-box in-the-garage
where most of our life-stuff waits.

A big one in the downstairs shower, last spring
nothing but a waterfall of tesserae and,
perched on a protruding stone,
a white water creature between dog and dragon.

(Making this took ignorance and staying power,
exhaustion like grout under eyelids
shallow cuts filled with mortar
and a deep one
on blades of blindness and oblivion.

You'd think I've had it with mosaics.
But now, again, I begin.


The artist cannot draw. She traces innocent, indelible black lines
on lined notebooks
like children might smudge in art class or
lovers doodle while they say sweet nothings
on the telephone.

The artist has no eye for geometry. She crushes pottery
and cuts stone into odd shapes.
She plays with the shards against the wall
this way and that she turns them until the gaze blurs
and the hand bleeds and the mosaic itself
chooses the right shape.

The artist doesn't like to mix mortars.
They come with that rush of fast-flowing time.
They say 'I shall be yours
for ex minutes and not a second longer (read the label).
And then I will be dry.
On the wall, in the bin, I don't care:
dry, dry, dry.'

The artist can't decide:
what, where, whether.

The artist wants to remember.

The artist wants to forget.


A tessera is, for a mosaic,
one atom, the smallest stone,
what one soul is to the world
one letter in a sea of language
and for the Greeks
The number four.


The first tessera - a white one, very small -
is on the wall.
('oh why did I start?')

'I'm hungry, that's what
and possibly

I lick a stone to see the colour better
it tastes of mortar and memory.
on the wall with it, on the wall!

I see now, I see
('oh God, what do I see?')

I sit in an empty bathtub covered in dust and with
a lap full of stone and a
tub full of glue
and a wall, a grey and endless wall.


The sun for seeing with the eyes

The moon for seeing with the heart

A river between them
for everything that flows
hours and histories,
journeys and hope
broken bridges
and boats.

And stars.
Because each may be a wish
or maybe just a chuckle
caught in the clay
of seven nights.

And another fish for you.

And a tree for seasons
for flowering
for this home.


Do you see?

How a yellow plate we got in a market in Nairobi
and used a million times
to eat ugali and sukumawiki and then
in Scotland, salmon in a bun
in Portugal peaches and limes
yes that one, now broken,
is now the face of the sun?

How I must have stepped on shards of stone
because my feet
now hurt
and bleed?

How the river seems to flow
from a seam
in the stone
in the wall
of the house
Felix built?

How the mosaic waves and swirls
as you bathe underneath?
Like a tablecloth
I launch and unfold
in late, languid sunshine
in our garden.


At 18 September 2013 at 13:26 , Anonymous Marina Sofia said...

So beautiful - words and pictures - I didn't know you could do such masterpieces in mosaic!


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