Ed Bok Lee invited me and four other artists to create one-minute videos in response to one of his pieces in Metatranslations, his Coffee House Press sponsored writer-in-residence exhibition, at the American Swedish Institute. This is the one Ed invited me to respond to:
God in the fields mid-blossom.
Overhead screeches a metal giant with fins.
On the checkpoint screen, I watch a dark, bearded man’s carry-on
illumined like an infant in ultrasound. But it’s only
purple-striped socks, a hair dryer, six linoleum samples.
Mid-morning, daylight savings has a few confused.
Others smile into the little black pools of their phones.
Palms and silk flowers along the moving concourse erect, artificial.
Mid-flight, I dream of a pagan dance
framed by molten harvest moon like overripe
fruit that will satiate the farthest, most personal
hunger in every human.
Evil rides a bicycle home, combing its hair.
Moans on a cloudy, pink-lit operating table.
Future antelopes plant plums with a wooden clothes hanger.
We won’t ever arrive at the lighthouse.
Of course, we do scrape ashore, past midnight.
Someone I don’t know flashes gang signs by the village’s only well.
Near dead, the scent of a sawmill
awakens my blind grandfather and four-year old father
For a long time, nothing else.
– Ed Bok Lee
And this is the video I created in response:
So much of my immigrant experience is about existing in the liminal space between two cultures, two ‘homes’, maintaining roots in two lands. And the act that links me to both places – flying – is a great metaphor for the whole thing.
My first flight ‘home’ was when I was six months old to Jamaica to visit my great grand mother. I was the only one of her great grand children she met.
I love flying, too; it’s space for me to think all my thoughts! I selected footage I’d made on my last trip ‘home’ to visit my dad in Grenada for Spring Break. Like the Swedish laypeople’s poems Ed found between groceries lists and in scrapbooks, I’d made those ‘movies’ while flying because… the water reflected the sun just so or something… not as a part of any particular project.
With the cost of airfare rising and the increasing complexity of international travel, I wonder, will my and others’ trips ‘home’ continue?