The Remains of She

Welcome to the second collaboration project by Ford and Spira . 

The Remains of She takes place in a dystopian future England and Wales, and concerns the 10th century historical characters Æthelflæd Lady of the Mercians, her husband Lord Æthelred, and their daughter Ælfwynn – the hero of our tale. The Remains of She is a love story which has travelled the centuries to bring about a renewal of nature and humankind.

Our ‘continuation’ of this Mercian true story is presented here today in the form of an epic poem, sculpture, photography and art.

For maximum reading and viewing pleasure please allow yourself a comfortable thirty minutes with a large screen, and prepare yourself for a magical journey into the Mercian past and future… as we present to you…

The Remains of She



Act I

Progression

She catches a train on a November night – the 9:18 Powys to Stafford.

The platform is empty save for a tramp, a mask hanging from his ear

By its solitary loop, and whose unlit pipe and a missing leg

Brings to mind W.H. Davies and one of his verses:

My little Lamb, what is amiss? If there was milk in mother’s kiss,

You would not look as white as this.

She boards the train and takes a seat, pulls down her mask to drink tea

From a Thermos growing cold, cold as the night, as cold as the carriage

She occupies, as cold as he: her childhood sweetheart she is off to meet;

All thirty years which lie between their teenage kisses, soulmate vows,

Her promise to love him till the end of time, to hold his weak hand –

For he is cold from the vice which squeezes, and for which prayers

Are as useless as vaccines and pills and conspiracy theories.

She. She looks up as a masked watchman patrols the empty carriage,

Commissioned by King and Country to inspect ID cards in the gangways

Of the public transport system under yet another government curfew.

He electronically stamps her papers with words that should read –

CLEARED FOR TRAVEL –

Instead there appears a trail of blood red Latin:

Surge. Dna. Disepentur inimici tui et fugent qui oderunt te a facie tua.

She recalls it is the script from the famous Staffordshire Hoard,

Inscribed on a gold strip once buried in the earth:

Rise up, O Lady, and may thy enemies be dispersed

And those who hate thee be driven from thy face.

She realises something has been lost in the translation,

That the dna part should read dne

Dna-Dne-Dna-Dne…

Do Not Awake – Do Not Enter.

And on a night of unsolicited verse, she considers how absurd

It is to encounter such words under lockdowns and curfews,

And a pandemic curse as bastard-big as the universe,

And as dark as a horse, black as a hearse, thunderous as a herd

Rotten from tip to tail with failed immunity.

“So, you’re a doctor, eh?” the watchman says with a nod

To the steel case balanced across her lap.

And she knows he knows exactly who she is, and what’s in the case,

And that just like her he is a chameleon from the same departments

And corridors of power unlit by scrutiny, clip, clip, clip go the heels

Of the likes of her through tunnels as dark as rabbit holes,

Into cabinet rooms under beams of Maglite and white phosphor;

The skelly-bones rattle of keys able to lock up secrets and bury lies

As big as satellites, as deep as lakes and as grand as canyons,

And as abundant as flies on the living starved,

And on corpses laid out where their bones did fall.

She tells the watchman, yes, she is a doctor, from Wales.

Lie after lie after lies are simply new truths stacked upon the old,

Skyscrapers of misinformation in a city of fools governed by devils

As naked as the day they came slithering from the womb.

The watchman bids her a safe journey, followed by the requisite

Mantra: “The queen is dead, long live the king!”

And he sails along the carriage in search of fish the bigger to fry.

And she – she winds back her thoughts to a lady and a lord –

DNA domina, DNE domine,

Dna-Dne-Dna-Dne…

The repetition makes the same sound as does her train

Clattering along rails under Welsh skies, her metal crate

On wheels and track, parting mountains and rivers

To take her fast to her childhood love and solemn pact.

Quickly now hurry, Dna-Dne-Dna-Dne, before my boy

Takes his final breath, before he…

He shivers in his fourth-floor flat in Staffordshire,

Claimed by an illness whose fingers hold him by the scruff of his neck

So that he may gaze into a mirror to face what he became

In that long-ago first summer of underlying health conditions,

Pulverised and smashed to smithereens by particles falling

In air droplets like paratroopers descending and armed to the teeth.

Boy, best listen up now, and listen real good:

Stare hard at your skeleton reflection in the glass,

And swallow these pips of a winter which will be your last. 

He. Who clutches in his fist the letters from her, smuggled inside parcels

From a mutual friend who works for Amazon.

He. Whose left eye is lost to malady, has read her words of love

With a single blue orb; a lone stone paler than the blue of her own eyes.

And if they were named as spies by the colour of their eyes

Would they answer to Cobalt and Azure?

With trembling voice he utters:

O universe hear me in my final hour.

Hold back your thunderbolts from the sky,

And allow me to gaze at her azure eyes

Just one more time before I die.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

He jumps at the noise of the intercom. It’s ten-thirty. It’s her.

“I’m downstairs,” she says. “Buzz me up, before I freeze to death.”

And soon at his door, even obscured by a mask, he can tell she is just

As beautiful as the day they met and when their teenage hearts fell in love.

How they connected the dots around their souls and discovered

The shape made a castle; the very same castle which sat on the hill

Beyond their estate, while they pretended to be lady and lord

Of a renewal to come as their young eyes turned west.

West.

West is best.

I go there because there the sun sets.

Dna-Dne-Dna-Dne… hurry come find the Remains of She.

A wordless “come in”.

A blast of barely warm air from his cheap electric fire

And the smell of skin care treatments greet her.

He sees the steel case in her gloved hand and understands

What it holds inside, as she pulls down her mask and smiles.

And he says, “You haven’t changed a bit.”

And she says, “You… you look like shit.”

“I’ve seen better days. But now I don’t have much time.”

“So let’s hurry along. Do you have the key?”

And though enchanted by the shanty of her azure eyes, he turns

To a desk missing several handles, its rosewood top tattooed

With time and the ringlets from tea cups and the stains of wine.

And he plucks an iron key from a stack of pens in a desk tidy,

And declares, “The key to the castle.”

“We should go there now,” she says to he,

“Dna-Dne-Dna-Dne… come let’s find the Remains of She.”

He blinks his cobalt sole blue eye, and asks,

“Will we find treasure?”

She is already turning to the door when she answers,

“Every castle that ever was, and is, contains a treasure.”


Act II

Procession

They emerge on the streets of November England to the retort of gulls

And the snare drum rattling and piper’s whistle disturbing the buildings

And street furniture, discharged by a bitter wind drunk on boredom

And deep regret for the absence of a public it would like to torment.

But there is not a soul upon these streets save for she and he,

Who commence their procession to a derelict warehouse –

The temporary home to a van which has been idle all day

On a full tank of petrol and with false numberplates,

And decals declaring: HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS – BIO RISK.

O haz van – our regal coach, our golden chariot hauled by prancing

White horses in the guise of black diesel smoke –  come carry us

About our procession through streets abandoned by prosperity;

Towns left to rot by recession, shored up, scaffolded,

Rebranded redevelopment under fast track laws, thinktank slogans

Trumpeted across screens and written by slaves not much better off

Than the people the sentiment was intended for:

WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU IS GOOD FOR ALL

AVOID A TRIP – STAY INSIDE AND CLICK

WE DELIVER TO YOUR DOOR TO SAVE OUR NHS

And the notices pinned to the front of sullen venues:

PERFORMANCE CANCELLED

EXHIBITION PROHIBITED

THE MUSIC IS OVER

When the music’s over

BANG

BANG

BANG goes another car on the bumper of a truck

Speeding through cities hauling parcelled-up goods,

Belched from megalithic warehouses by the click of a button.

Don’t look now, hon, but that poor passenger just lost her head.

Rubberneck. Bottleneck. Here’s a noose to tie round your neck.

And she, and he, tip-toeing through this car crash land hand in hand,

Bang, Bang, Bang, ghost town, unemployed, starved, fucked up;

A Dickensian metropolis on home-grown and prescription drugs.

Dna-Dne-Dna-Dne… hurry let’s find the Remains of She.

At the derelict warehouse two doors grind apart,

And there stands the haz van in all its yellow and black glory.

Key. Ignition. Twist. The dashboard blinks into a bank of lights.

Eleven says the clock –

One hour to midnight, to get to a castle,

To find a secret passage, to open up a door,

To find sacred treasure scattered on the floor,

To analyse artefacts, to strike connecting lines

Between the numbers and the dots of two souls

Making history repeat,

Repeat,

Repeat after me:

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree,

I loved you and you loved me.

Say: I do, I do, till death do us part,

Now say it again with blood-capsuled hearts,

And rings on fingers and the inscription Æ,   

And an intercourse in bed to sculpt and shape

The wetness flowing between intertwined legs –

To fashion a daughter to be crowned one day queen

O’er all Mercia, o’er England free, o’er an isle united

By harmony, equality, prosperity –

The Remains of She lie in abeyance of discovery,

And the loving gift to set us free. 

The haz van crawls through the doors and proceeds about town

In search of the Newport Road that leads to the castle,

Past condemned houses and offices gone to the dogs,

Past commercial signs still pedalling the lie

That England is open and trading for business.

While above this stately route of a van’s procession,

Sits the sulking sky full of swollen clouds,

Pledging oaths it will burst its granite banks

And pour a season’s worth of rain upon the land –

Unless,

Unless,

Unless things damn well change around here –

Here! cries the fit-to-burst sky. Will you wretched people

Ever learn from your history books and scriptures?

Must I send forth my tears to drown you again,

And have you build yet another flood-beating Arc?

“The sky’s full of it,” he says.

And she increases speed as though she might outrun the pellets

Already pitter-pattering against the windshield.

She spies a needle prick of blinking light in the blackness above;

A dot in the sky following their progress, and it becomes clear –

“We’re being followed.”

He finds the source of light with his sole blue eye.

“A surveillance drone? Police?”

“Might be an ally.”

But she is proved wrong, when in the side mirror of the haz van

Appears flashing blue lights mere metres behind.

She pulls over to the wailing siren. Turns off the engine.

In the mirror an officer emerges from her patrol car.

Tap, tap, tap at the haz van window, a masked face stare,

A voice that declares: Your papers.

Then questions. Answers verified. Radio static. Cold eyes.

Restless fingers on fluorescent hips equipped with deterrents

And incapacitating bolt-throwers as deadly as fifty hornet stings.

What’s in the metal case? Vials, you say. Vials of what?

Yes, I have every right to question you. To make you open up.

See, your doctor credentials… they don’t hold water, don’t add up.

Step out of the vehicle. I’m calling for backup.

And she. Just when she thinks all might be lost, is aware of a figure

Emerging from the trees at the side of the road.

And this figure is a man clothed in robes which shroud his frame.

And his each stride forward makes the sound of the earth’s plates

Trembling below them, tumbling and resonating like earthquakes.

In one palm he holds dancing white lights.

And in the other is a staff shaped by the movement of the sea

And by designs of the wind and the pull of the moon.

Wizard… you are here!

And the wizard comes to the she and the he.

And the police officer unclips her hornet gun and aims it

At him with words recited from her training –

While the wizard remembers words from far more ancient scripts,

And in a language fashioned by a higher universe he declares:

You may return to your station, for all is well upon this road.

And from his palm he shakes his staff at the bloated sky –

To the watching drone which blinks, flickers then disappears.

And from his other palm he makes dancers of the orbs of white light,

And sends them spinning as ushers to escort the officer to her car

And to take her leave, and to remember never this November night

For as long as she breathes nor as long as she dreams.

The wizard’s eyes are dark and liquid and kind

And full of galaxies. And he says to the she and the he:

Your path is clear. The road is free. And you shall meet no obstacle

Save your own fears. And what are fears, if not mere mirrors,

Reflections? Death staring back at you. Boo!

Face these visions and you will see that death is but the beginning

Of a journey which will set you free.

He stares into the cab of the haz van. Spies the steel case

Resting in the foot well, and, lo – by his will he opens it.

And it is true that the case contains vials. Two. And of equal size,

Made of glass, and in the perfect shape of hearts.

But, lo, these vials are empty!

Empty you say? No more!

And in a language neither the she or the he have heard before,

Comes a wizard spell from wizard lips beneath a wizard beard.

Lo! See those glass hearts transform into vessels of ancient blood

Tapped from the veins of a lady and a lord.

Lo, and lo again! See that wizard vanish from sight

After the miracle he has caused, but not before declaring to the two:

Dna-Dne! Hurry to your castle! Shoo-shoo-shoo!

O, let that procession continue along the Newport Road.

Let eyes widen in wonder at a castle on a hill,

A silhouette against the still swollen sky, their childhood fortress –

Smaller now than how they remembered it, though no less

Majestic in its allure, and for what it contains beneath its stones,

Deeper still, below foundations lain by medieval masons,

Deeper, into the guts of the hill it sits upon, yet deeper,

Into labyrinth corridors spiralling into the earth to enact the birth

Of a child of time and her baptism by a lady and a lord.

She. She steers the haz van into the castle grounds

Where in ancient days there may have been hounds

Upon their tail, upon their scent, to hunt them down to prison

Sent. Hung, drawn, quartered, tarred and feathered, pilloried,

Ye witches shall confess! Ye sorcerers shall bleed!  

Yet the two are chased only by a curious breeze

As they quit the haz van gallant in duty done of bringing them

To a Staffordshire hill in November chill, and under that still

Bloated sky who has thus far held back its full battery of tears.

Up.

Up.

They climb the hill,

And the castle looks down upon them and thinks:

Ah, two strangers come, a she and a he, to unlock my secrets

With their brass key, their brass cheek, their audacity,

To unpick me! To plunder my treasure, for what measure?

Hark, I think hear their thoughts, old castle I,

Domesday Book recorded, Anglo-Norman family walls,

Feudal baron stone floors, shelter given to dukes and earls

Who fled my banquet tables when Civil War did demolish

My shoulders, did buckle my knees to bow to new masters

Who pledged to rebuild me, over and over again,

Stone by stone, Gothic revival, my arms open wide

To greet now all tourists on the Newport Road

Who come to me with guide books and camera phones.

Selfie cheese. I am here to please, and to be known –

But never do I tell my secrets.

Yet, hark once more… these two, the she and the he:

They come with only one intention, one act in mind.

Therefore, should I open my doors to the ancient paths

Beneath my belly of stone, and offer my treasure with hope

It might enrich the human touch with the gift to create life?

Do I give up willingly the Remains of She

Who I have guarded for more than ten centuries?

And you. What would you decide if in such a position,

If you were a castle upon a hill?

Pray tell, and fast, for I see these two traversing my mount.

Shall I allow them into my deepest tomb?

If so, then name me no more to be castle or fort,

But a tenth century Mercian maternity room.


Act III

Accession

He struggles to climb this hill in his final hour,

His breath rattling about his lungs like a rainstick upturned,

As she takes his hand and tugs, afraid he may not live long

Enough to play his part, while above them stars flicker

In a tapestry of sky, and a crescent moon looks on in interest

At what may be disturbed this night, among crisp air and cold

Castle walls, a hatch discovered in the frosty dirt –

Goes down,

Down,

Into the belly of the earth.

They linger at this hatch like space walkers waiting

To reboard their craft. She pulls up the lid and an unholy hiss

Escapes the shaft, chaperoned by the whiff of uncorked air

Expelled from lungs pressed against a cage of prison cell ribs.

My little Lamb, what is amiss? Must I awake you with the kiss

Of life to steal you from ten centuries of slumber in the abyss?

For Death would own a sleep like this, if not for magic and guile

And the midwifery of angels at your side. And they –

The she and the he, a lady and lord upon which we pin our hopes…

But, alas, the two hesitate at the hatch steps, fear placing its ropes

Over their heads and about their necks. Ah,

If there was milk in mother’s kiss,

You would not look as white as this.

And she. Just when she thinks courage has forsaken her,

Is aware of a figure standing nearby.

And this figure is a man dressed in black, neither old nor young,

But with an age of stories and poetry and sagas told, whispered words

To shake the earth, or ease moons to slumber in the grip of insomnia,

Lullabies, rhymes, the script for a lyricist’s travel into time in search

Of discovery word by word, line by line, a paragraph, a stanza,

A diary of events, letters pulled from alphabets to spell out songs

Of eternal love and renewal to come, by the light of his pen and page

Be he known as the Mage…

And the second messenger of this night to bring gifts of wisdom,

Magic and light…

Mage… you are here! 

And the mage comes to the she and the he,

His eyes bright behind orange lenses like the rays of the sun,

His mask – a black flight case to protect the instruments

Of his lips and tongue and the music his words make on journeys

Upon days such as these and nights such as this –

The gifts which he gives; in this instance four books,

Which he offers to the she and the he.

And though the mage is a man of many words, he has only these

Few things to say:

“Here is a book left blank on each page.

Here is a book to help light your way.

Here is a book to put you on track.

And here is a book to make you laugh.”

The books being:

The Journals of Queen Ælfwynn (yet to be written).

The Book of Taliesin (Welsh poems of enchanted Britain).

The Railway Atlas of England & Wales (1918 edition).

And

The Importance of Being Earnest.

“The first has blank pages for your daughter’s pen. The second

Let me quote Taliesin – O tan a dayar, a dwfyr ac awyr, a nywl

A blodeu, a gwynt godehue. The third, ah, helps your daughter

Find a train which will take her to a place of renewal and magic.

And the fourth – it was Oscar Wilde who said it…”

Behind every exquisite thing that existed,

There was something tragic.

Dna-Dne-Dna-Dne… ‘tis time to behold the Remains of She,

As the Mage departs and into the earth go the she and the he.

Down,

Down,

Down spiral steps with their brass key,

To unlock the door of a birthing suite

By trinity of the inscription Æ…

Æthelflæd and Æthelred – the she and the he,

And Ælfwynn their daughter to rise as queen.

There is a door made of mahogany at the bottom of the steps.

And she. She takes their brass key and pushes it inside

A lock held fast for ten centuries of a pregnancy

About to break its water.

The key. Does it make the sound of skeletons fornicating

As it enters this lock; or the sound of salmon pushing the currents

Of a stream; or the music of unpublished symphonies

Discarded by maestros in the wealth of output inspired by divinity

Or madness?

The door of the birthing suite opens to the aroma of musk,

To the glittering jewels and artefacts left scattered about the floor;

An offering of timelines taken apart and put back together again.

And did the azure blue of her eyes not behold such treasure?

And did the cobalt blue of his single eye not measure the same?

Did they not cast their collective gaze upon the trove of computer

Circuitry bejewelled with Anglo-Saxon metal and stones;

Upon the two NASA spacesuits from the 1960s laid out on the ground

In preparation for employment; upon the drawings on the walls of moons

And constellations and planetary coordinates for deployment?

Did their gaze not comprehend the rotation of a disc upon the platter

Of a phonograph – and their ears understand a voice very much like

Orson Welles relaying historical events since 1914?

And did their eyes not witness the collection of 35mm film photographs

Documenting the Hale-Boppe comet as seen in the Northern Hemisphere

Skies in March 1997? And the ink drawing of a UFO by an uncredited

Artist, depicting a square-shaped craft above Stafford castle in 1984?

And upon the floor, in the centre of this maternity room, this birthing

Suite, this museum tomb, this hollow womb… lies the Remains of She.

Ælfwynn… we have come, our daughter, little lamb, to give to you

The milk of our love so that you may finish what we have begun.

Behold among the artefacts the Remains of She –

Ælfwynn – already crowned and inscribed with Æ, already masked

In preparation for her journey to the upper world of push-button

Pandemics and politics mandated by a population blinded

By bandits and charlatans and parasites and predators

She must pretend to be a part of to enact clever changes from within;

To pull levers, switch tracks, rewrite codes and expose the monsters

For who they are and with no hiding place to go –

Suffer – their masks won’t slip, rather…

Let them be torn off by Ælfwynn, and the ogre faces beneath made

To stare into a mirror of truth – the mirror of truth

And already there is such a mirror behind the masked remains

Of this queen soon to be reborn, look…

And the she and the he take turns to look, and they see themselves

In this mirror as teenagers when they first met and fell in love,

And they see themselves gazing at a square craft which surveyed

Their castle, and they see themselves older and playing their roles

In the institutions for which they became spies and sleepers,

And the collectors of potions to make the greatest living spell.

They see themselves now, honest and pure, then later as corpses

In white NASA suits, floating away into the void of space.

She.

She knows that the act of sex will finish him.

He.

He knows this too.

So no time to undress, to disrobe and reveal naked flesh,

Only zips and buttons become soundtrack to a foreplay

Of the spreading of themselves upon cables and the guts

Of ripped-open computer boards and consoles and the glittering

Hoard of treasure strewn across the floor, and coins bearing ornamental

Designs in desire to create a unique specie for monumental times.

She mounts him.

Presses his hardness against the wetness between her thighs.

Pushes him deep inside the walls of her cave.

Their movement is as serene as Mediterranean waves,

Sunflowers turning their heads to the south,

Nectar dripping into open mouths,

Pollen gathered by busy bees,

Treetops parting to a gambolling breeze –

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree,

I loved you and you loved me.

Near.

Near.

The climax is near.

And now they must drink from the two glass vials,

Those heart-shaped receptacles reflecting their eyes

In blood-red stillness and anticipation

As they cum and swallow this ancient blood

At the same time as the sky outside explodes with rain,

Floods of fluid flushed

Through living bodies in a fabulous liquid death

To hydrate life into new beginnings

And a single pip;

A stone which will grow

In the belly of she.

She.

She dismounts him. Watches his sole orb flicker.

He.

He has no words,

Only a pencil-flick peaceful smile as he dies before her azure eyes.

A final kiss then, on those upturned lips,

And a whisper she will love him forever, and, O, that phonograph

Is now playing a song by Vera Lynn –

We’ll Meet Again

And she has never felt more truth in the grains of any lyric until now,

This moment, as she says goodbye to him.

Goodbye my love, we’ll meet again,

Don’t know where, don’t know when,

But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.

“My love,

Let me fold your arms across your still chest,

And close your cobalt eye so you may sleep neath angel wings

And cross the riven sky.

My love…

There is no indignity that your funeral robes shall be

An astronaut suit and helmet, a visor to cover your sweet face,

As you drift away into the void of space.”

She puts him inside the NASA suit and seals him shut,

Props him against the wall next to the second suit, which she knows

She will herself come to occupy in time.

Time.

Time.

The tick-tock of hands turning across dials. The switch of digits.

The phasing of moons and the tidal pendulum.

Momentum measured in heartbeats – she places a hand across her belly

And can already feel the tempo of her daughter.

Tick. Tock.

Tick. Tock.

She looks at the artefact which is the Remains of She –

Ælfwynn, crowned and inscribed with Æ, masked, yet beneath

That stretch of fossilised fabric she knows there is already

The mark of a smile; the knowledge of a soul about to bear

Fruits of life, the soon-to-blink-open inherited colours

Of her mother and father’s blue eyes.

Tick. Tock. Tock. Tick.

And at last comes the kick.

The kick inside.


Epilogue

Born and raised twelve years in darkness, this Ælfwynn child

Does seal her mother in the shroud of an astronaut suit.

Remembers her last words:

My little lamb, you have learned much in our short time together,

And now I must leave and take with me your father.

Be strong, and know this… there was always milk in mother’s kiss.

Rise, my fair queen, go tend to the people and banish greed,

Conquer hate where it grows like a seed,

And let love flourish at Earth’s hour of need.      

Remembers.

Remembers her training days, does this Ælfwynn child,

This child of time, who can fuse circuits and wires and rocket fuel

With nothing more than her imagination and a will to blast

The corpses of her parents into space and eternal rest.

This Ælfwynn child, O child of time, with the guidance of wizards

And mages who will remain at her side to guide her

As she enacts plans for the recalibration of humanity.

O, she will use her four books wisely as she emerges

From her birthing suite into the light of a day shining in herald

At her summertime arrival. This Ælfwynn child,

This child of time, this child who will travel unhindered

Across lands and beguile all she meets by her fair heart and hand

And the hope which she gives.

Yet, hark, do not take her gentle ways as a sign of weakness…

For those with will to oppose will be crushed

In the very same heartbeat it takes for a wicked man

To do a wicked thing –

This Ælfwynn child may wreak havoc on all architects of evil,

Will show them suffering and starvation, pain and misery,

Foul acts returned to them as they once inflicted their dismal art

Upon creatures as weak as new-born lambs.

And they, they will be made to look into the mirror of truth.

And they will be made to see what they have done.

And they will be invited to atone in the garden of mercy.

Perhaps.

Perhaps.

Perhaps in time all hatred will diminish,

And new seeds will grow upon lands once barren,

And the incandescence of Ælfwynn will shine like a beacon

For those who seek love, light and spirit.

My word! This renewal will be so magnificent it will be witnessed

From space, and all manner of craft from across the universe

Will visit Earth and survey this new state with alien eyes

Of the deepest accord.

And this Ælfwynn child, this child of time, she –

She will come to be known as The Warrior Queen,

Our Lady of Renewal, Our Mercian Hero who emerged

From a castle upon a hill, from a birthing suite

Where she was born to rise as a light from the Remains of She.


The end



The sculpture 



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The author’s favourite line


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The creators 


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From Stafford castle to Tamworth castle, and the adventure continues?


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Poem by Ford. Sculpture by Spira. Art and photographs by Ford & Spira. Additional art images by Hieronymus Bosch, Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Stafford castle image by Giles Jones.

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27 comments

  1. Mage, Word Whisperer, Tan Cymreig, Ford, my dear friend and partner in yet another crime…It is Done!!
    Somewhere in forgotten scripts there must be a formula that describes what two souls can do when they are synchronized so harmoniously.
    All these months, amidst a pandemic – the back and forth of ideas, drafts, inspirations ; between two men, artists who have never physically met ( or have we some other time my dear Mage?)
    The story you weaved is…(I am hoping our more eloquent friends here will fill in the blanks).

    I hope those who grace us with their time and attention and thoughts see that , if not anything else, this is an outcome of love, light, hope.

    Thank you is not enough for the spoken and ever so important unspoken facets of our new baby…
    Big big Hug and bravo mate!
    Onwards!
    Nick – Wizard

    Liked by 1 person

    • The synchro was incredible, I think it took us away on this amazing ride and journey as passengers.
      It struck me too that ‘time’ was one of the themes of our project, and that the project itself was well over a year in the making – you’re right about all those many back and forth mails and drafts in the midst of pandemic and good news and bad news, and so it is amazing to think we have done all this work together yet are still to meet because of travel restrictions (though, as you say, perhaps we already did!)

      ‘Love, light and hope’ as an outcome and a theme… yes!

      We did it!

      Many bravos and hugs my friend 😎😎😎

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nick and Ford, this is so compelling! A truly harmonious collaboration, where the partnership of art and the written word come together so seamlessly, each element complimenting and supporting the other. I love the language, I love the story and its relevance, and I love the artworks, especially the blending of the ancient and the modern. It begs an installation and narration! I doff my hat to you both.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Chris. You’re right, the two elements come together harmoniously, and for me it was a joy to see my words come to life with Nick’s images, but also that many of the images took the narration to new places I hadn’t imagined.
      Oh, wow… you mention an installation and spoken parts, that would be next level stuff for sure, and with a screen showing visuals too – what a joy to see and hear all that!

      Thanks again for your thoughts, really appreciated! 😎😎😎

      Ford

      Liked by 2 people

    • Chris , thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.

      It shows, doesn’t it? I would portrait our collaboration as a fluid dance but I am worse in dancing than a log!
      I guess all our creative inputs were appearing as single elements but then they were instantly weaved together ; each time revealing more of the final pattern.
      I am so honored by our creation (and to tell you a little secret, relieved that my art seamlessly supported the Words Whisperer’s saga !)

      And wow indeed Ford ,for Chris’s suggestion of an installation!!!
      You know what this means Mage…shoo shoo🤯😎

      Thank you Chris from the bottom of my heart.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Goosebumps here! What a ride. Big yes to an installation and/or spoken companion – and the same goes for your first collaboration. Lots of potential building up there!

    Loving the dynamic between you both; the mutual admiration is clear and evidently leads to great things! Congratulations to you, and I look forward to seeing what you conjure up next.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hiya Jacob, thanks for reading and commenting. If the ride gave you goosebumps then it’s a mission accomplished in the feelings we were aiming for. Glad too that the dynamic is evident – in some ways the pandemic has forced us to interact in a more formal way through emails and photo hosting rather than in live company, but here the dynamic worked as a strength and not an obstacle.

      Appreciate your thoughts and time dear sir! Many thanks again 😎😎😎

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hey Jacob, as Ford said its mission accomplished if that’s how you felt!

      Bruce described our dynamic also as symbiosis. It is moving and more significant than you will ever know to read your honest thoughts and feelings.
      Some might say that our dynamic is such because we are not live company; let me say, from what I have inside me so far representing our Words Whisperer, I am with certainty doubting that our dynamic will weaken. On the contrary…

      Again, a massive thank you for everything.!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Bruce it is such a joy to read your feedback.
      Our symbiosis, as so well you put it, is such a blessing – pandemic or not .
      Thank you for your time, attention, thoughts and sentiments; they are immensely appreciated.

      I am happy to inform you ( following up on our recent conversation that the glass is raised😉

      And as someone very dear wrote to a dedication and the dark forces of our story found out:
      Rose’s are red, violets are blue
      You don’t f@#k with the Wizard
      Nor with the Mage too!!
      Cheers!!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Bruce, many thanks for the read and comment, and so pleased you enjoyed it. The tale has a special place in my heart because like you I lived in Staffordshire for a few years back in the mid 80s! Fond memories of Stafford town, Tamworth, Cannock Chase, buying my first records and sew-on patches for my leather jacket from Penkridge market… brilliant days!
      Thanks again good sir! 😎😎😎

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hey there man, like your last collab togethe, this was fantastic! and the increase in length of this really helped your synergy shine, great work my friend. it’s been a long while since my stay in Staffordshire, and it was only for a short period but I have very fond memories of that time, my brother lived in Stoke-On-Trent at the time also. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I had a pretty decent comment written up… but it was lost when I hit “post” and it basically said “no”… Well, my comment essentially praised the beautiful imagery and world-building, but with better words. I think I used the line “beautiful words for an ugly world” and was proud of that.
    Thank you two for sharing this and allowing me to experience it…… Now I’ll just hit copy before hitting post, aaannnndd

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks CJ not only for taking the time to read and experience our collaboration but also rewriting your comment!
      Again, your time and feedback are truly appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hiya CJ. Many thanks for the read and the comment. It’s a delight to know the images and world-buliding had impact. And to echo my partner in collaboration Spira… many thanks for taking extra time to resubmit the comment after it went AWOL (lol, been there before, copy & paste is a true friend indeed!)

      You know, your line: “beautiful words for an ugly world” easily stands shoulder to shoulder with many of the sentiments I wrote in that poem (you are right to feel proud!) and I am so thankful and happy to read someone say that in response 😊
      Many thanks again my friend,
      Ford 😎😎

      Like

    • Hi and thank you so much for gifting us with your reaction to our collaboration😃
      To say I am a happy man to see you appreciate the complexity of it all is an understatement!!

      PS: the only positive of myself and the Mage being physically apart is a massive saving on € spent on proper celebratory alcohol!!
      But we will remedy that 😎

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hiya BK. Many thanks for the read and comment. Yes, we’ve never met and have made 2 collaborations thus far via distance. This one began with a few loose themes, then I wrote a synopsis (which changed a lot in the end). Having a visual collaborator like Spira really helped shape the story and filled in some blanks. And to think, we worked through lockdowns, curfews, and one us even carching the virus.
      Again, big thanks for your reading and interaction, BK 😎
      FordX
      (ps – yes, keep dancing, love it!)

      Liked by 2 people

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