Outline for a Relief Map
The watercolours merge transparent as they are
an inner landscape.
I am trying to make the Unseen seen.
I trace their borders with a fine felt pen,
allowing blending here, division there.
The lines separate countries and people.
Here, highways are built,
and boundaries are drawn
red between plenty and scarcity.
Irregular lines in wood are called zone lines,
battle fronts between fungal colonies.
Their presence represents decay.
Oil pipelines leak, explode in the sea.
Carried by current, oil permeates deep,
and bleeds into coral, blue and green.
A lake contains many ages of water.
When a body freezes over, the ages
come together and form a mosaic in the ice.
The colours are resonant and shift,
perspective tilts slightly forward.
I am trying to bring Coherence to incoherence.
My eyes are the colour of glaz,
which cannot be painted in the moment
like light, or sky, or sea.
I render a river delta from the exosphere,
desert, blue mountains, amber sky.
I shape a map into a reverie.
I limn round solar mucilage
in shades of crystalline green.
I carve an impenetrable circle around you and me.
a desiccated speck of sacred ground.
I locate myself in a field of dead wheat.
I pour 800 million litres of ink for 87 days.
I grind elderberry, sumac, wild plum to pulp. I paint for miles,
blindfold myself, slash the canvas with a knife.
A glacier ablates into fragments.
I speak kindness to it and heal seven generations back.
I drink it and heal seven generations forward.
I am speaking of a vertical language written in the blood of trees.
I weave a millennia of mycelia threading centuries of humus.
I leave the threads uncut.
Artist’s Statement for “Outline For A Relief Map”
“Outline For A Relief Map” is an ekphrastic poem based on my art (e.g., “Relief Map”) and process. It explores lines that divide and unite us to each other and the earth, and our broken relationship with and responsibility to the land. It highlights the human-imposed order that runs against nature’s wildness and touches on themes of ecological restoration, reparations and world healing. Visually, the poem represents both an outline and a diptych. Symbolically, each stanza represents one or more of the seven types of relief maps (climate, thematic, political, road, physical, resource/economic and topographic).
Laura Rockhold is a poet and visual artist living in Minnesota. She is the inventor of the golden root poetic form, and is working on her first collection of poetry and a multidisciplinary art exhibition that explores the interconnectedness of environmental and social issues and healing. She holds a B.S. in child psychology from the University of Minnesota. Her published works can be found at www.laurarockhold.com.
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