Post-Madrid memories Part 3

by Helen Barker

I’m trying to write a short story. It’s pretty short at the moment. I’d say a few words. Maybe less.

It’s not that I don’t know what I’m writing about. I do. It’s more that what I’m writing about is mental and emotional space, and what I don’t have right now is mental or emotional space. So I figured I’d follow-up my recent influx of post-Madrid memories with a few more reflections instead. Sometimes we can write calmly and  contemplatively, sometimes we just need to chuck a load of things at the screen and hope we don’t blind whoever is looking – tonight’s one of those nights where people might lose their sight. In advance, I apologize.

Ok so this is a picture of a shadow outside the Reina Sofia. I’d like to say I took the picture of the shadow deliberately, because that would be cool. But actually I pointed my camera into the blinding sun and hoped for the best. I was actually trying to get the monument that cast the shadow but instead I’ve been left with the temporary profile that echoes its form. What I like about this picture is that it speaks to me of something much bigger than the tower outside the frame. It makes me think about the temporary patches of light that move around me, and what sort of shapes and profiles and effects I cast on the world. Obviously if I had an extravagant hat day then my shadow would be pretty ostentatious. But this picture reminds me that wherever I am, I exist beyond my physical limitations – I have a profile that I cast out – a shape that belongs to me – a shadow that echoes who I am. This picture challenges me to remember that my presence is altered by the light in which I stand. If that light is bright and beautiful, then the ‘shape’ of who I am/how I am seen will be clear and well defined.

Here’s a picture of a hand. It’s not mine. I sense a “disembodied” theme coming on…. This picture is another ‘mistake’. And before you ask, yes I do know how to use a camera – just not this camera. I like this photo because it was taken on a day when I re-discovered the power of relinquishing to a higher hand. This photo reminds me that everything I saw whilst I was in Madrid was thrown out before me by the hands of others, and ultimately by creative power. In this image I remember that whilst I am looking through the viewfinder, all that I see is merely a small gesture performed by the hand of creativity. And that my hands, which strive to be creative, are immeasurably small in relation to the expansive world through which I wander. Every so often, a hand wanders into my view finder and affords me that Kairos moment – the moment when things open up, when I realize I am not alone in the frame.

Lastly, this is a picture of a drawing I did. My drawings is some sort of attempt to remind myself that language exists in the gaps between words. I know, that makes no sense. But it sort of does. It makes me stretch my thin brain into a place where I understand that words and images together make a picture that cannot be explained by either of them alone. That language is more than words. That language is doing something that I hunger to explore- and that’s what I love about writing – and that’s why I can’t write my story tonight. Because language is too big for a short story tonight. It has leaked into the gaps of my mind, between the images I’ve shared with you, and it has left me swimming in a mire of memories.