‘114 Lines’ is the third of a series of texts written by Anna Mace as part of the CtC Writer in Residence (CtC WiR) Programme launched in October 2017. Over the course of four months, the resident writer will contribute short stories, inspired by a contemporary work. This work is based on the sound installation by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard called ‘Requiem for 114 Radios’. 

Black (Chapter One)

I forget that sometimes
when you venture along far enough
you can hear things that
make you remember, and the
proximity of memory wavers close
like the flutterings of a wing,
whisperings for instance
or the hum
fragments of a melody
we used to sing together, in signs
sometimes syncopated, sometimes out-of-tune

forgive me, but my thoughts feel like fog today
things I thought I thought
seem slippery as light, and
even when I work tirelessly,
engineering connections
beneath a single bulb uplit,
inside this lonely cellar
I cannot seem to fix
the fraying ends
to all these telephone lines
where words just seem to soften into shade

they always end in knots,
though if you wait long enough
you can discern this is not I,
another work
something I gave along the way
despite my journey home
trailing fingertips across walls
clammy and dark,
still I managed to leave a trace
it is neither here nor there, my mother said
if I recall and she is right, I think,

progress never stops,
it is, it is, it is
minutes are, as always, though we may forget,
life; it doesn’t die, it just keeps on moving on
(first law of thermodynamics, 1850),
my mum is my protector, my warrior with all
her fierce love [enfolding-folding-olding]
she determines life by how far she can love
and love is all you need (The Beatles, 1967),
especially when you love
with your whole life (Dies Irae, 1200-1265)

White (Chapter Two)

On the day of my birthday
they raise the Mary Rose
approximately fourteen and a half hours
before I am born, and 500 years
after it sinks,
it is grey-white and warm today
surprising for October
so my father says
but I don’t remember
I am too busy traversing the border
between one world and another
thrust into the evening cold,
my lungs fill with disbelief
and my cries raid everyone of the quiet

from the corner of his eye, my father sees
tulips in the hospital room
and he smiles, he thinks
my tiny hands curl like the petal buds
around his finger, and he remembers
how it feels like cherry-red velvet
his mother used to wear.
My father loves his mother
he is the strongest man I know,
she is my fairytale grandma
the woman I always wanted to be
they should have called me Alice, after her,
instead I named my daughter for him
I dream she is a quiet, gentle, solitary soul

I wonder if Granny Alice
likes the same things baby likes?
Green apples, strawberry ice-cream and
small, smooth blue-white pebbles
from the beach down the road…
As she grows up
I’ll whisper stories as she sleeps, of other Alice
the ones my father always shares
trees heavy with mangos in Malaysian sun,
Momo dulux-dog, found beneath the wooden hut
with maggots in his infected chest
his ragged breath gives his hiding place away,
he was just one of the many, she couldn’t help
but take in strays,

Grey (Chapter Three)

lucky, he says, to find love
I reply, in the nick of time, my favourite line (Bonnie Raitt, 1989),
my daughter holds my hand
like we are one electrical circuit,
I know she wants to breathe for both of us
and she is right, in some ways
always so good at sharing,
and I, at letting go,
the hospital walls are soft white today.
I can see clearly how the cracks around the light fixture
fork out like tiny splintering, rivulets of lines,
the way our breath
moves in and out, in and out,
to the music in the room (Salut d’Amour, 1888).

Anna Mace

 Iain & Jane | REQUIEM FOR 114 RADIOS

Anna Mace is an artist, writer and poet. Having studied Fine Art, she is keen to merge the boundaries between text, art and performance, experimenting with different creative media and seeking to engage with a broad audience. Inspiration comes from modernist, symbolist and experimental poetry traditions. Between writing she works as a teacher and has lived abroad in India, Japan and Europe but now resides in Bristol, UK.

Published poetry online includes; Kemptation Music, Boundless magazine; Ink, Sweat and Tears and Visual Verse.  She was resident poet for the National Trust at Bucks Mill Cabin, Devon, creating limited edition art zines.

Her current projects include writing poetry for the bookart edition two and edition three, Revolve: R, where her poetry was made into short films.   Revolve:R has exhibited nationally and internationally in 2016 and 2017.

Her poetry manuscript, am, was shortlisted for The Melita Hume Poetry Prize 2015 and 2016 with Eyewear Publishing, London.

She has also helped co-direct writing workshops for children (3-14 years) as part of Paper Nations with the Eden Project, Corsham Library and Africa Writes Festival 2017.

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