I’ve been back at my Monday morning drawing class for the past couple of weeks following the mid-term break. Today we were invited to bring in an object “constrained by form” which speaks to us as an ‘antidote to the fear of death’.
I brought my mother’s wristwatch, one of the very few items I have that belonged to her. It’s a Timex watch she bought from Long’s Drugstore when I was about 10. Sometimes I wind it up and wear it. It keeps more or less accurate time.
One of the gifts I claimed from the death of my mother, when I was 16, is the awareness of mortality. When I got a little bit older, I was able to reflect on her life and I realised that she had waited until too late to start making positive decisions and choices based on her interests, well-being and desires. Besides going to college at age 50 and leaving an unhealthy relationship with my father, I wondered what else she had left too late. My mother died from cancer when she was 55. At a very young age I decided that I did not want to follow in her footsteps and wait until it was too late for me to live my own life.
In a way, she gave me the gift of time which is symbolised by her wristwatch.
Anyhow, here is my drawing, followed by a poem which my drawing teacher read to us.
Antidotes to Fear of Death
Sometimes as an antidote
To fear of death,
I eat the stars.
Those nights, lying on my back,
I suck them from the quenching dark
Til they are all, all inside me,
Pepper hot and sharp.
Sometimes, instead, I stir myself
Into a universe still young,
Still warm as blood:
No outer space, just space,
The light of all the not yet stars
Drifting like a bright mist,
And all of us, and everything
But unconstrained by form.
And sometimes it’s enough
To lie down here on earth
Beside our long ancestral bones:
To walk across the cobble fields
Of our discarded skulls,
Each like a treasure, like a chrysalis,
Thinking: whatever left these husks
Flew off on bright wings.
– Rebecca Elson, 2001