Apologies to anyone who’s not as fascinated with feet as I am!
As mentioned in the last post, my feet have been an unusual shade of pink due to the swelling. Although the swelling has been going down, the particular pink-ness has been due to them being washed with Hibiscrub in order to prevent infection. I was given a bottle of this to shower with the night before, and morning of, my operation. When I woke up, I was covered with the pink streaks all the way down both legs. Obviously the prevention of infection is vital, but it takes an age to scrub the pink stain off, and as I still can’t quite reach my feet to wash them properly, there are still some patches of pink left on them that are a very different shade to the pink of swelling.
As I had to spend so much time looking at my feet when I was lying in bed, these pink streaks and patterns became a feature of watching the changes happen during recovery. This morning I was looking at them, and had a memory of choreographing a piece of dance-theatre in 2002 for the Exeter Festival. It was based on the story of The Red Shoes (it was meant to be the second in a trilogy of dance pieces based on fairy tales following the one I’d made on the Little Mermaid, but I’ve never got round to making the third!). Like quite a lot of young girls fascinated with dance, I remember vividly the first time I saw the film, and the impact it had on me – still does, and I want to live in that amazing house in the South of France where she climbs up the steps for the meeting, sweeping up them in her long cloak and coronet in her hair.
As part of the piece I choreographed in 2002, I had one of the dancers draw patterns on her bare feet using red lipstick – this represented the putting on of the red shoes. This is the memory that came back this morning, looking at the remains of the pink streaks on my feet. I haven’t felt able to write any poetry since the operation as all my bodymind energy is being put into physical healing and re-learning how to move, but today I decided I’d write something, even if just three lines. So thinking about the painting feet with lipstick, the passion for dance in The Red Shoes, and my own pink-painted feet, I wrote the poem below. I was surprised at how much energy it took, and I was in tears and wrung out afterwards. But pleased I’d managed to create something new. Maybe be a few more days before the next one! To explain the last line: the title of the dance piece was ‘Those Who Know Have Wings’, which was taken from an Upanishad, used in a book on shamanism I was reading for my PhD at the time of making the piece. It’s connected to the idea of the spiritual state of leaving the body to contact the divine, in whatever way you’d like to conceive that. So for me, it’s also about body-and-transcending-body happening simultaneously.
Enjoy – and I’ll try to leave off writing about feet for a bit!
Lipstick on my feet.
Pink, sticky calligraphy of swirls and dots.
Anti-bacterial writing telling tales of
A violent assault in healing.
Unmoving lumps, decorated with a wash of
Toes wiggle - the pink patterns dance,
And the feet are drawn back into being *my* body,
No longer alien art works I stare at in a medicated gallery of
Unnatural punky pinkness makes them
Fascinating unfamiliar objects cloaking
The flesh and nails I've known always.
These feet are fantasies,
Inscribed in a created language,
Maybe sacred writing of whispered mantras
That are working magically to make feet, legs, and hips work again.
The pink markings fade,
Absorbed through skin into blood, bones, organs,
Feeding new energy to body, breath, spirit,
To rise and take flight,
To dance again.
The calligraphic language becomes one with flesh.
A language that has vanished now it's
Played its part, sung its song, breathed its pinkness
Into the future.
Those who know have wings.