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The art of blushing

A view of the Seine River in Paris.
A view of the Seine River in Paris. - Magdalena Randal

DRAWING ON THE ARTS by Magdalena Randal

Even as he was saying this, all of his opponents were blushing with shame.

But the rest of the crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things he was doing.

– Luke 13:17 (ISV)

Two weeks ago, I fled the stuffy classrooms I've been studying in, to walk on the seashore in England. Stepping along a pebble beach in a winter storm, I felt the stress of Paris dissolving. Flurries of snow drifted into the ocean; water meeting itself in different forms. There was peace in that reunion. High above the sighing surf, seagulls hovered. Their seeming inertia made them look as daunted as I felt. We were bashful together briefly. Then their cheery cawing reminded me of the courage that I found in Nova Scotia.

Here in France, I can see that spirit when the old monuments, like Notre Dame Cathedral, are made pink by a kind of heavenly glow at dawn. On my return to the city of light, the “Springtime of the poets” festival had begun. So, here, in gratitude for Maritime memories that sustain me, is an end of winter poem. A kind of letter home.

Soar so the earth will blush

Be the white bird speeding through enclosures

so all surrounding walls become rosy with the light of fast moving love

searing hurt away in soft, tenderness,

Like plumes pressing swiftly out of bleeding ivory shoulder blades.

The force of reason unfurling in kindness to bear some tiny body out of air dense with soot.

Be the white bird whose passage makes the dirt blush pink or green...

Even while being a clumsy girl stopping by the derelict's camp,

where scum covered hands reach out seeking the glint of some old coin hidden deep in a pocket,

Scrape the lint from inside that warm place to give them what they want.

No need to tell them that the money is that of another place;

They won't be able to buy any love with it here.

Still they’ll persist like battered dogs cowering on a pile of rotting food.

Greediness lurks, certain of its supplies:

Seeming necessities that look golden, wrapped in glistening plastic.

Slough off the film that encloses your wings, then soar.

The kind of flying that takes creatures to a part of space where the world looks just as it really is.

A marble suspended briefly after a giant gambler has skillfully sent it on a spiraling trajectory.

Snatch the ball, the tiny earth, hold it close to feel its heaving shudder against your flesh.

It weeps so hard the surface ripples, overrun with screaming people.

Still ascending, stay in the black soothing night. Be a rocket now.

All is silent as engines drop off.

Yearn to be made of flesh, bone and feathers again, dying on some spit in the shape of a cross.

The kind of construct mothers create to hang their sons on.

Mothers wearing pin stripe suits and stilettos – like gangsters in a graphic novel.

Attacking each other, then everyone in their way.

Turn all the crosses into stars, shards of illumination, to pierce the dark screens that little children hunch over.

Be small enough to get into the network where the light is organized to diminish.

Silence all the voices, the clamour stirring hearts and minds. Be the murmur that persists.

Maintain that one day the white bird gliding, will stitch exploding constellations together.

The kind of precise creature that makes a prayer out of some dying bud.

Like a pen scrawling fast across paper, driven by a dedicated hand, so flies a spirit

Made more agile by devout worship and no secret malice.

Praise the way that creates order out of chaos;

Love the un-winged creatures, grounded in a freedom that is imprisoning.

Like a lullaby cage made of song.

The kind of tune that seems to soothe while hardening sorrows

into ammunition for the murder of erupting life.

Like water, dissolving fear,

in this present, surrounded by the silence of freedom,

Like anyone else becoming a bird, chirp helplessly.

Then listen to the other dirty pigeons scattered around the steaming grate.

Let them know their blushing is audible.

Rosy angels they are, the more you gaze with the regard

a creature still reeling from childbirth accords its fresh, bloodied spawn.

The life that appears so mutilated at first, grows into something tidy or disordered.

Rarely free enough, adequately messy, to really let its cheeks redden with self-consciousness.

Be the little white abstraction that makes the whole world blush.

Magdalena Randal is a Nova Scotia artist and filmmaker currently studying in Paris.

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