Silence and the Songbird

Louise Oliver
Three poems with mixed media collage in digital form.

Silence and the Songbird

I have good memories of being in Goole. Each time I’ve visited, it has been to work on projects or to attend events at Junction. I remember walking through the shopping precinct and along Boothferry Road to where I was staying and I recall some of what was happening in my life, what I was thinking and feeling as I walked. Studying the map on what3words.com , I traced the route between Junction and West Park, searching for three-word combinations that rang out for me. I identified three stopping-places, discovering three sets of three words, making nine words in all. Then I began writing short poems that combined the nine words in different ways. Selecting from the writings, I went on to make mixed media canvasses, creating images and landscapes where the poems could be embedded. The final collage of words and images is created digitally. This synthesis contains echoes of memories that are now anchored at three junctions in Goole.

1. silence.emerald.implanted
2. protected.songbird.thudded
3. flamenco.skin.sharpens

A Sapphire Silence

A sapphire silence,
implanted with pins,
forms a skin of emerald.
It splits and sharpens the air.
A rare, protected songbird falls mute.
Rose-thudded flamenco shudders to a stop.

His Backwards Song

Protected by mosses, implanted in soft grasses,
I glimpse a green songbird, more olive than emerald,
trailing dark strands of hair, or maybe roots, in its beak.
His backwards song sharpens the skin and curls the claws.
A feathered, flamenco silence is storm-thudded and blood red.

In Another Skin

Once, when I was in another skin, barefoot and adrift,
I stood on a far, southerly sod of earth,
weeping over orchids and gladioli.
Banished from a fierce, flamenco life, I held my breath,
while blackbirds sang in dark, metallic verses for the vanished.

The cold of exile sharpens, hones and grinds the bones.
Now I hover here in patched and altered garments,
loitering on a northern square of soil,
straining to hear the rhythmic clap of hands,
thundering feet and a reckless, raw refrain.


My emerald implanted skin is protected by a songbird,
whose chorus sharpens the flamenco-thudded silence.

Louise Oliver

I trained in Fine Art and returned to visual art practice after having worked in theatre for many years. I worked as a maker, deviser, writer and performer in many unusual locations with IOU and have always enjoyed exploring the way different art forms can combine with one another, as well as relating artwork to specific locations. I have experienced serious illness within my family and in recovering from major surgery myself, I became interested in the role of imagery in healing. Visual artwork and writing is often related to dreams and meditations. Recent work has taken the form of mixed media canvasses, digital prints and poetry.