Monday, May 15, 2017

Old Knitter of Black Wool

Who knows why some words sit in your mind like a sword wedged in stone? Last week I rescued two large balls of black wool discarded in a cardboard box outside the wool shop in Bridge Road. I wondered why I needed to pick them up. I had no idea what I might knit, in fact I haven't looked at the wool since then.
A few days later I began reading Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and was captured by the words of the main protagonist Charlie Marlow who enters a doorway and 'Two women, one fat and the other slim, sat on straw-bottomed chairs, knitting black wool'. On the following page he continues 'Often far away there I thought of these two, guarding the door of Darkness, knitting black wool as for a warm pall.' Old knitter of Black wool. Morituri te salutant' (those who are about to die salute you - a greeting to Caesar). I had to look up the meaning of pall and apparently it's cloth that covers a grave or hearse. According to the notes in the book, the women knitting black wool resemble the Fates of Greek legend, Clotho and Lachesis, who, respectively, spin and measure out the thread of each life before Ateopos cuts it. It seems that the knitters of black wool and Ateopos who was responsible for the inevitability of death worked closely together to spin their evil plan.
The roses that Leonie Osowski gave me for my birthday began to wither and the stems had turned black. I placed the dried rose stems with sharp thorns in a ductile metal container between my legs and took a photograph with my Windows phone. The resulting image is spider-like and threatening as the limbs spread across mine
Simultaneously unknown to my conscious self and buried deep in my psyche I remembered a spoken word piece called Down that I devised and performed along with music composed by the experimental musician David Powell in the early 1980s. Thankfully he's making a digital copy for me from a cassette tape and I'm hoping to use this and the imagery of the black wool to begin a new arts project. Old knitter of black wool. The words continue to enchroach on my mind, like an arachnid spinning a strange and wonderful web.

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