I used to dream of old houses. I have not had that particular dream since the fire. In a way, I wonder whether my old dream of the old house was not my subconscious preparing me for the event…? One speculates in the aftermath of such an occurrence. Everything seems to take on such great import, even the chance decision to give myself the pseudonym of Ash for some of the poetry sights I used to post to seems now to have been a premonition of some kind.
I thought at first that I would write of this at length. My studio was filled with sketch books and poetry notebooks… it was there thumbing through the burnt remains of my phrases, that I knew that all is transitory and that we only have this moment. Even words can be taken in flames and consumed. I have written very little of this though I came across a list of things to do written 2 days after the fire… and somehow they moved me to go through the photos that I have not looked at in any great detail before today. Truth be told, since we left our old home, I have not driven past the place. I try not to speculate on this too much.
It was Freedom day here in South Africa, a public holiday, and I had put in additional leave so that I could paint. I remember that I had written a list of things to do at the kitchen table that very night. My first thought when standing in the road watching the roof soar with red orange flames was, ‘Well at least now I don’t need to do the washing.’ while desperately wishing that I had a cigarette. There are other stories… for the weeks after the event I probably told them all but I cannot find those stories anymore. Life has moved on and the woman standing barefoot in the road with smoke-stained face and hair seems to be a woman from the dream of old houses and I no longer see her.
But I do feel that she needs to be remembered. There was something I truly cherished about her. I loved that she chose not to dwell on the loss and focus on what she could take out of the experience. I loved that 2 days after the fire she could be seen painting amongst the rubble. I love that she did indeed buy some flowers and that these flowers lasted right up until the day we moved out which was 5 weeks later.
She gathered her treasures…
Drank her fire-wine…
and begins to live new dreams.