To you
this will be heresay
but I saw it today:
a lizard has saliva;
and even when fed as a pet
atop a picnic table
(one carrot in six pieces)
a Bearded Dragon will keep one eye cocked
to the sky.

To me
this is heresay
but I heard it from a teen:
no Great White Shark
can be kept captive;
at a certain age
within even the widest walls
(the blind genome of some Greater Good?)
a hand-fed Pointer will pulverise its only skull
for freedom.

– Naomi Byrnes


Art journal response to a visual meditation on ’12 Plums’ by Joseph Decker. When I saw those 12 Plums on Yale University’s Art Gallery Site, my breath caught in awe. They looked so juicy and exquisite.

Today, I pulled that picture out feeling quite daunted and also excited about trying to respond in some way, with nowhere near the artistic skill of that work. Purely for joy and adventure and relaxation.

My starting idea was to pick a fruit or vegetable and draw it repeatedly. I looked around our campsite. My sister had chopped some carrot for her pet Bearded Dragon who was sunning himself on the picnic table.

I was mesmerised by watching his tongue at work and his movements as he chewed – intermittently fast in short spurts, then very slow and deliberate.

I intended to draw just the pieces of carrot. But walking past my journal, someone asked if I planned to draw the lizard too. Another flutter of nervousness. Ah, heck, why not just dive in and see what came out. It’s only paper.

And as I drew, the reward was noticing the detail of the scales and feet and those muscled fore-arms. It reminded me of a buff personal trainer, demonstrating a push up.

I also noticed I was remembering the fact that someone had mentioned in camp chat yesterday – about Great White Sharks not being able to be raised past a certain age in captivity. Noticing today’s WordPress theme is the word ‘Infinite‘, I found myself thinking about the ancient DNA that seems to drive the shark’s refusal to be contained in any finite space. It seems to be alive to have a sense of infinite freedom, even at the cost of its own life. I’d love to make sense of that. At the same time, there’s some part of me that can relate to the intensity of that longing for spaciousness, boundlessness. Not at any price I hope. But do you sense it too? How precious freedom is to you – to all life? 

I also notice woven in there a conversation that I had with a  friend who I hadn’t seen for 25 years. We were delighted to find we shared some reality around the concept of “the Greater Good” – ie: in our view, it’s not a justification for doing things that affect others against their will.

Ahhhh, the luxury of a creative date with someone’s skllfull artwork and my own paper, pen and oil pastels. I like the freedom of telling myself: it doesn’t have to be perfect, so long as I’m enjoying the creativity and contemplation, savouring life. And I love seeing where it ended up, in words as well.

I enjoy hearing what you see and hear. Is there a feeling or need that comes to mind for you?