Lying in bed, I’m perusing my mum’s red sky in the morning seascape painting.
So real is is it, I am hovering in the salty breeze above the elegant boat and glittering sea, the sky vividly orange, red, yellow and dawning blue.
Probably the first of those oil paintings she did when she was on that evening course in the local vocational school.
Must be over 50 years ago now.
A talented woman, who never got to properly explore those aptitudes and attitudes at higher altitudes, she did get better and better with each new canvas.
Texture, depth and deftness swiftly layered on with each new painting as if in a hurry to get to where she wanted to go.
Only getting started, really, with a handful of canvases completed. And then she got sick.
Only I’m not looking at the painting at all, my brain has just thrown a version of it up onscreen as I lie here half-dreaming, half-thinking.
Or rather half-writing, half-editing.
Preparing my own palette for the imminent visit to my little writing den at the top of the house that has to come of this current rumination.
Actually it’s a converted box bedroom. But I can be anywhere when I am in there, and I usually am.
And I love it so.
It’s where I sit in front of my iMac computer screen and laptop for my day job as a newspaper sub-editor, but at times like this, the same little room, desk, screen and keyboard become my infinite writing Tardis.
I switch on the little lighthouse lamp over my desk to guide me, call up another virgin white Pages canvas and … I take off through time, space and phantasy.
Typing out the line that might have prompted this latest seance, and promptly cutting off piste to the lesser trammelled snows and drifts of my curious imagination.
Plucking words and images from a place that is much a mystery to me as it is to anyone reading this, or anything else.
Staring at the sky in this memory tableau now, a black seagull swoops into view in the top-right corner, and sweeps off to join the flock circling the lighthouse on that gorgeous piece hanging above the fireplace in our living room.
From there, he soars away to our beloved North Beach, gliding above the silky waves, and back to the brush with immortality that is the canvas painted by the dead hand off my mother.
But still alive to fetch me off like that solitary seagull, flipping in and out of past and present … purposefully adrift on the soft winds of reverie.
And alights now on this page, as I pause, sip my coffee, and move on.
I have no idea, really, but at this moment, I see this bird as my singular voice, the voice that fetches these words to me from my deepest travels, and nearest thinking.
It’s taken me a long time to find this voice, or to know I even had one, but I do.
As I believe we all do.
Just as my mother finally got the time to locate and explore her voice. And had that exploration and discovery so cruelly cut off at what I know now was such a young age.
Cripes, you don’t have to be even half alive to know that life can be so cruel when we think about it like that, it never pauses to consider the ramifications of those random tragedies like my mother’s sickness and early demise.
It just goes on, and you and me in it, however long or short our journeys.
My study lighthouse calls home my errant bird, for now, and he sits on my shoulder now as I write. My voice, a voice, still communing with my mother’s. And the others. Some departed, but who have never left.
Boats skimming the waves in a forever dawning seascape, or black gulls ghosting across the North Beach sky.
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