Tonight I began listening to a CBC podcast on this series of six tapestries in the Musée de Cluny in France. There is a general introduction, then each tapestry is described and highlighted. I sat back in the wing chair in my home office and half closed my eyes to listen and to see with words. I let the producer and the experts he chats with paint the tapestries with their words onto the canvas of my mind. The images leapt forth. This is what writing should do – take you into another place where images and events become real in your own mind.
The first tapestry – touch – the first five represent the five senses, the sixth goes beyond the senses to a place rejected by atheists, doubted by agnostics and lived in by believers in any religion. But in this post, it is the first that prompted me to stop the podcast for a bit to write.
Touch. My poetry and my prose always strives to make touch – texture, feel, physical pleasure, physical pain, surfaces, muscles straining, cold water on hot skin, rough tree bark, silk… live in the minds of readers and in my mind. The discussion of the first tapestry touch, describes the mediaeval juxtaposition of gentleness and lust, of the soft gentle eyes of the unicorn and its hard, erect horn, of the lion, of the lady, of all the images as occupying two realities in one.
Poetry presents many realities in one set of words. The reader must feel the reality and not worry about the reality of the poet. Prose is much more like this than most suspect. The words that narrate a story draw characters and events in places where the reader colours them, makes them tall or short, builds the country these souls inhabit. They do live in different places for each reader.