A portrait of a friend and I, and many others. 

She adorned me first in thousand song Lori-keets, or the brush did, and she followed, 

Chorus of voices that have gone before, as our mothers changed form yet still, remain present. 

No, not as I first thought all those years ago. Not gone at all.

Deep beneath the resplendent feathered robe are my many brittled bones of grief and longing.

What truth lay there –

just under the very skin, just far enough below that I could not touch it, knew not it were even there. But I had nested a fearful truth for 20 years, all the while, for all the places I travelled, it went along with, quietly in my own shadow. Hidden until the day it mysteriously whispered to me with Lori, through portals of fire and friendship.

There was a breaking open, bird to ground,

understanding so much, at once.

She hadn’t left me. It was just that she had to go. I had walked on feeling without, inattentive to the new terror the departure – her change of form –  bore within me.

I went on, small, stalwart, seeking: strong front.

But that I would be abandoned.

But that I were alone in the world.

A council of terrors, staring back at me, is demanding expression. For there can be no flight without vulnerability.

Grief and longing are but two feathered of the many feelinged, multi-storied birds, all women, all of us here today, yesterday, those who have arrived (do we ever arrive?) and those yet to come into full embodiment of the truth at the heart of our being.

These are a few things I could say about the portrait. It calls me to be, that which I sometimes feel confident I am. On the trackless way to becoming and unbecoming, I’m grateful for this gift of a multi-storied image. 

It calls us forth, compels to seek new ways to storytell, to go together into creative, authentic, empowered action. For surely these times of trouble require all that, at the very least.

“stellar violets” Portia Geach Prize finalist 2019, by our dear friend, artist Lori Pensini.

ABC article