Where rainstorms spark to rainbows
where conkers’ spikes burst to shine
where trodden-on blackberries bleed
underfoot, is where the secret hides.
Around the secret is a hole.
The hole it is a subtle hole,
because it has been there forever.
Around the hole a tree has grown.
The tree it is a very old tree,
with thanks to loads of perfect weather.
Bumblebee quick on an ocular swift
to the tree very old with the subtle hole
wherein does live the secret. To know it is there
is not to find it. A place can be a helter-skelter.
The subtle hole keeps held apart
a little of the old tree’s bark.
The subtle hole keeps held from harm
spiders, their fabric, thread and craft.
The subtle hole keeps held from the dawn
a little of the gloaming’s dark.
To find the secret in the hole
is not to see it. First we must believe.
The beautiful eyes. The magical wings.
Glimmering, stirring, secretly.
'The Secret' is a direct response to the fairy plate, pictured, by Julie Goldsmith, Ceramic Artist, in The Secret Garden, Dandelion Visions Exhibition; Exhibition Curator, Mikey Georgeson; in conjunction with Blake Fest Artistic Director, Rachel Searle; photo by Rachel Searle. 'The Secret' is a community event poem constructed by Stella Bahin incorporating words, phrases and ideas from the following contributors present at Blake Fest 2017, Saturday September 16 and/or Sunday September 17: Rosalind Faram; Toby, age nine; Sue; Helen Elwes; Steve Micalef; Richard Peirce; Nicoletta (Nico); Stevie; Lilias Rider Haggard Cheyne; Olivia Stevens.
Rosalind Faram, Artist: ‘feeling the sense of place’ (the first stanza, specifying ‘Where’; ‘A place’); ‘looking at a tree and seeing an angel.’ (What is the winged ‘secret’ seen in the tree in the ‘hole’ that has been there ‘forever’?)
Toby, age nine: ‘Loads of art/loads of people’ (‘loads of’); ‘the experience of an ocular swift thing [Oculus Rift] on the whiteboard when you looked at it, the art’ (‘ocular swift’, making it appear on the ‘whiteboard’ screen or paper of the written poem); the looking at ‘the art’ and art as looking, ‘ocular’, swiftly, ‘quick’, but in as natural way as a bird might look, from the air, not landing. Also, the hint of the nonsensical being perhaps a doorway, or guide, to another place where our feet might not be quite on the ground. Avian. Apiarian as a busy bee. Or, fairy-like, or, angelic?) ‘having fun looking at the art’ (a suggestion towards the incorporated wordplay)
Sue: (Re Anna Fairchild’s performative pressed blackberry drawing “And did those Feet…”) ‘Walking through blackberries, what would it feel like?’ (‘blackberries’, ‘underfoot’); ‘bursting open a brand-new conker, so shiny and and polished. The shell, spiky on the outside’ (‘conkers’ spikes burst to shine’)
Helen Elwes, Artist: (about one of the fairies in The Secret Garden) ‘I walked right past her a few times, looking for her.’ (The sense that the fairy, ‘the secret’, is difficult to find; ‘To know it is there/is not to find it.’); ‘I never expected this beautiful hole in this tree. So subtly placed.’ (‘The hole it is a subtle hole’, and surprising, ‘placed’ by what? ‘Around the hole a tree has grown.’); ‘the fact the cobweb’s coming across.’ (‘spiders, their fabric, thread and craft.’); ‘she’s got a secret quality.’ (‘the secret’; ‘secretly’; the non-telling, fully, of ‘the secret’); ‘It’s definitely a fairy hole’ (making it a hole the tree has grown around, as above; the description of the hole, for example, ‘The subtle hole keeps held from the dawn/a little of the gloaming’s dark.’); ‘it feels as if it’s been there forever.’ (the hole being older than the tree; ‘forever’); ‘It would be great if she stayed there forever and nature did its thing all around her.’ (the tree, or, nature, growing around the hole; timelessness. ‘forever’; the ‘eternity’ in which ‘the secret’ may live, or exist)
Steve Micalef, Poet, Artist, Badge-Maker: ‘I shall bumblebee on a dandelion.’ (‘bumblebee [as a verb, not a noun] on’)
Richard Peirce, Poet: ‘the blood of blackberries trodden’ (‘trodden-on blackberries bleed’); ‘not seen a street sign’ (‘the secret hides’); (Quoting these words spoken at Blake Fest by Stephen Micalef who was quoting Blake) ‘Every mortal loss is an immortal gain.’ (the ‘hole’ having ‘been there forever’, or, immortally; a fatal immortality)
Nicoletta (Nico): ‘weather perfect’ (‘perfect weather’) ‘music, art, poetry and beautiful people could be interested in’ (‘spiders, their fabric, thread and craft’); and again, ‘beautiful people’ (‘beautiful eyes’, implying the quality of both seeing those ‘secret’ eyes, and seeing with ‘beautiful eyes’, is linked, and comes from within: ‘beautiful’; beauty); ‘Thank you!’ (‘thanks to’)
Stevie: ‘we drove round and round in circles’ (‘Around’, repeated; ‘helter-skelter’); ‘work at Helter Skelter Records, all old vinyl there.’ (‘old’; ‘helter-skelter’; vinyl records; ‘Around’; the ‘hole’ in the dink of the record, holding it, centrally, to make the record play, ‘held’; ‘The hole’; ‘The subtle hole keeps held apart/a little of the old tree’s bark.’ ‘Bark’, as sound, the record as a record. The rings in a tree, year by year, recording: legacy); ‘I didn’t know the venues’; ‘I don’t think could’ve found this place,’ (the sense of being lost, ‘To know it is there/is not to find it.’; ‘A place can be helter-skelter.’); ‘got caught in a rainstorm,’ (‘rainstorm’); ‘I went to art school’ (‘held from harm/spiders, their fabric, thread and craft.’) ‘I didn’t want to be late, for the Blake.’ (urgency, ‘Bumblebee quick on an ocular swift’)
Lilias Rider Haggard Cheyne: ‘thank you for making me feel welcome’ (‘with thanks to loads of perfect weather’); ‘the thread of that past coming through into the present.’ (‘thread’; ‘very old’; ‘forever’)
Olivia Stevens, Artist, Poet, Songwriter: ‘sparked’ (‘spark’); ’Blake’s golden thread is now becoming stitched into the fabric of Bognor’ (‘thread’; ‘fabric’, ‘place’, and the creative stitching activity being spider-like; artists as ‘spiders’); ‘creative dawn’ (‘dawn’); ‘as an artist, poet and songwriter.’; ‘sew-ers’ (‘their fabric, thread and craft.’)