drawings from spoleto - Sculpture 2007

I found it on the beach. A porpoise. Dead. A deep red liquid oozing from its head. Rooks bobbed around it. Flies buzzed. How did it die? A large plastic bottle of water lay on the sand next to it. I was overwhelmed by sadness. It didn’t belong there, beached, exposed and alone. The day before we’d watched the dolphins. Such vitality, such rolling joyous-ness stopped. I touched it. I wanted to wake it, carry it back to the waves. Dead. Gone. Later it was gone. Who took it? Was it the sea?

It’s life this death. I force talk about moving. He closes down. I close down. An ocean between us. What do I want? I just don’t know. I make a return journey to childhood things. Will it help me know? I read Wind in the Willows both wanting to escape what they are. A bedtime story plays in my ipod about the mouse who heard the roaring. She had to go out and find the source. Even though it was dangerous and uncertain. She encounters a land where old mice live comfortably and safe. Stay here, they say, stay here with us, we’ll keep you safe. No, she replies, I must keep moving and find what it is I am looking for. She finally sees it, that shining hill.

‘Save my life’ say Mary Oliver’s voices all the while knowing as she knows, that the only life she can save is her own. Just last night, I dreamt of the shining hill. Nice.

A man sitting on a bench at 5.30am. A brutish-looking man. Tattooed. Do you live here? he asks. Yes, I reply. Was it worth it? he asks. Yes, I reply, without thinking, knee-jerk, anxious to keep moving, to walk on, it’s lovely.

Worth what? I think afterwards. Worth what?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.