port of everywhere pt 1
// travel //
And so i set out to a cold port city in search of him. Knowing it would benefit me to be slippery, fluid, amongst bars and the night walks, i disguised myself as best i can as a man. A fur hat, a handsome shirt with stripes, a long blue coat. My fingernails shellacked with the deepest blue polish, and rings stacked up on my long fingers. You see, i knew that blue was the openest of all colours: a channel for possibility the way a sea is before it freezes in winter. in my finest blues and in the shape of myself, i set out to look for Antero, my grandmother’s portal to God.
i change my location settings on my ok cupid profile and am astonished (a little disappointed?) at how many profiles are written in English. i coo over the names and drink my airport coffee: Annika, Sanna, Temu, Timo. i wonder what it might be like to mouth these syllables in bed. But for now, i feel small, and unready. Vetiver on my hands.
// travel again //
if the cow fits, slip it my grandmother said as a bird hit the window, announcing someone’s death in Helsinki. Things like this were always happening, birds bringing news in the snap of a neck, cows unwittingly becoming idioms, people standing up from the coffee, still hot, the moment before the phone rang, announcing someone’s death in Helsinki. The cows are a metaphor for patience, for arrival, for the timeline of god, of multiple stomachs. Don’t ask me if he was in the basement when it happened; the floor opened up and the bird had its details taken from it, silenced by that false passageway.
Antero was a giant who kept valuable spells and magics in his mouth. He slept under a pile of dirt, perhaps not a grave but the heaviness of soil a kind of comfort all the same. Not unlike the weight of organs, a lover laying against. in the dance i imagine, Antero arrives onstage
(orange warm light )
( a long shining coat )
(bare chest )
(hair tucked behind ears)
in his hand is a bird. The bird is my grandmother, or it is god, depending on the crowd or the budget of the presenter. The music is cued by the performer onstage
(portable PA with cording to sound booth).
Antero begins with a slow liquid arm, the arm pouring up until it becomes water
(mop on stage left, pre-set for the performer).
The song is Show Me Love by the singer songerwriter Robyn, no relation to the bird onstage. The solo continues through a score of loose bones, a soft and floating skull, sudden stillnesses, and choreographed winks on the “1” of every chorus. Sex is implied in most of the moments, but not all. The silken jacket which is more of a cape really, is removed to reveal an invisible gender.
the bird hand opens
the bird opens
the room opens
(this is a lighting cue)
god appears in the mouth of the bird, announcing important and valuable spells and knowledge.
the work can be adapted for stage spaces, portals, the deep and cavernous
space of the solar plexus, and
a bird in the hand makes the crowd hungry for mythology.
// isthmus, Karelia //
An isthmus is the parted mouth of land before the seal of war closes it, lips and all . Antero was born on an isthmus: the man, not the giant. And so everything he knew was narrow and subject to change at any moment. He learned to walk by placing one foot in front of the other like a tightrope walker, though the rope was his country and the danger on either side a rising sea, 0.2 cm every year. Antero could pivot at a moment’s notice: from forward to backwards, from past to present, from quiver to stardust. He knew that a perfectly timed shift (in rhythm, dimension, strongly-held opion) could drive a crowd or an encroaching Russian army wild. Antero understood choreography in this way.
And so the swimming in language begins, head underwater to surface gasping at familiarity. Family in the bones and a tongue not nimble enough to follow its own blood. A blood dog, a blood pancake, a delicacy undertasted. The sky is clear and cool and he gets ready to arrive. He changes his location settings on ok cupid. He gets ready to drown in language.
// learning //
The two Finnish words he learned from his mother (Aiti) (other than that changing word, the first word) and the words for social order (Kiitos, Terve) were
The bridge of light on the water that scorned lovers follow,
Swimming towards the moon to die.
Which translates to Emotions-poor, without the currency of language to describe what is filling up the heart.
You could say there are categories of words.
You could say one category of words is “useful”
The other “poetic”
But when Antero arrives in that cold port city it becomes clear that both of these categories are, in fact, useful.