Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Rabbit Tree

Top image: Paul Gauguin. Untitled (Tahitian landscape) of the artist's book, aus dem Kunstlerbuch Noa Noa Musee du Louvre, Paris.

Bottom image: My collage, The Rabbit Tree, based on Gauguin's painting.


I was getting tired of the old walls on my blog. Thought I'd slap some bright pink over everything and make a new start. What do y'all think? Is it too much?

I've managed to do a couple of collages since I got out of school for Christmas break. I did this collage, The Rabbit Tree, just before Christmas. I'm still working with Gauguin imagery. Earlier in the month, I had been researching the symbolism of trees. It seemed an apt thing to do with Christmas right around the corner and Cynthia writing about the importance of the Christmas tree in her family.

I didn't know what I wanted to do with my collage until I ran across the mysterious image of the human brain that looks very much like a tree to me. My son's is an illness of the brain, so that image really spoke to me. The cool colors and the starkness of the image mirrored my psyche. When I am stressed or undergoing some dramatic change in my life, I go back to the fundamental question of "Who am I?" That is when I thought about a rabbit.

Once, about two years ago, I asked my husband, Allen, what animal I most reminded him of. He thought for a while and then said, "A rabbit." At first I was indignant: A rabbit? That cute, timid, insignificant, cuddly thing of Easter baskets? Is that how he really thinks of me? I wondered. I said something to him to that effect.

"No, no!" he countered. "That's not how I think of rabbits. Rabbits are quiet, patient, strong creatures who survive underground, in the deep places in the earth. That's where you live, in the deep places of your heart." Needless to say, I thought that was a fantastic answer and further evidence to me that I'd married just the right man.

So, off to do research about the rabbit and the hare! What a fascinating creature in many mythologies. In one Native American culture, for instance, the hare stories are very sacred, the hare representing their Christ. Indeed, when the missionaries came, the indigenous peoples said they didn't need Christ, for they already had hare. The hare was also closely associated, in some cultures, to the moon and to healing, to the stars. So when Spring came, with its thaw, with its rains and its flooding, I wrote a poem to the rabbit. The poem is rough and unfinished, but it encapsulates my thinking during that time.

Looking at the stark image of the brain, reflecting on what my son was going through, I began to think of myself again as that rabbit, living in the dark places of my psyche, gathering food, gathering healing herbs, gathering strength for the days ahead. The rabbit, then, finished off my collage image well.

Here is the poem I wrote about the rabbit:

In this wet season
claws your burrow
with its sharp nails.

I look out my window
and see you sniffing
the ground at the edge
of the blue, fallow field.

Are you flooded out?
Soon, Osiris will gather
himself again. This rain
will stop.


Watching you, I wonder, Has
your winter shyness given way
to the rutting madness of your mates?
Or do you prefer to crouch
at the Virgin's feet? I'd give a house-full
of coppers to know myself again. I yearn
for bucks all my own, their rutting ways.

Rough-Footed Lepus,
Osiris' Boat,
sniffing among the dead grasses,
once a year, gods say you lay
your eggs in our secret places.

Your likeness is everywhere
this time of year: Gingham, pink,
or chocolate-brown,
you ride in children's baskets.

Basket-rider, sawdust-filled companion,
sweet-tooth cure, you once fought
monsters, stood between us and the Great
Manitou. But we've forgotten that.

Moon-Hare, Savior.
You sacrificed your immature ways
for the sake of further development,
and for that you are our Christ.

I watch you, Moon-Hare.
You leap toward the cottonwoods.
I have no fig-tree you can pound
your herbs beneath to make your
magic drink.

I wish I had such a tree.
I would ask you to make a drink for me.


Anonymous said...

My dear Theresa, the poem is quite beautiful. Unpolished or not, it is so sweet and articulate, and very moving. I love it. And the collage is wonderful. When I first saw it, I thought that the image behind the rabbit was of the eye - but the rabbit in front of the brain is a great concept. I see in you the powerful, fertile creature, shy but tenacious, and as your husband said, living in the deep places. Behind you, surrounding you, is your prodigious mind. I have always enjoyed the hare stories in Native American lore, and I think your husband's view of you as a rabbit is perfect.

Love, Vicky xx

Tammy said...

I really loved the way that wonderful husband of yours described you as a rabbit. The collage is very representative of the stuff you are dealing with. I wrote my first poem in your absence and am trying another soon. I thought your poem was beautiful and heartfelt!

I like the pink, it's a calming color that reminds me of spring.

ckays1967 said...

I'd give a house-full
of coppers to know myself again. I yearn
for bucks all my own, their rutting ways.


I wish I had such a tree.
I would ask you to make a drink for me.

Welcome back my friend, I have thought of you often.

beths front porch said...

Theresa, I feel like I've come home again. That's how important knowing you and your family are ok is to me ;-) Love your desks, love your collage. Love you. Beth

Paul said...

I dunno, all these women hear gushing. Makes a man fell ill-at-ease. where the hell is Vince?

dreaminglily said...

Lovely... It gave me goosebumps. I don't get that feeling very often with poetry.

I'm a rabbit according to Chinese astrology. I've always felt like one too lol Timid and shy, the way you thought of them. But your husband made rabbits sound so much more than that, that now I think I must be a cat lol...

Wonderful entry. As always.


Judith HeartSong said...

very interesting.... all of this. And I like the pink.

Steven Denlinger said...

"Rabbits...survive underground, in the deep places in the earth. That's where you live, in the deep places of your heart."

I know, it's been said already, but what a fantastic description of a writer, Theresa.

I too am glad that you are back. I've missed you.


Anonymous said...

Tiger, tiger burning bright, / In the forests of the night, / What immortal hand or eye, / Could frame thy fearful symmetry. William Blake

You- a rabbit? Love it- But you- more like a tiger!

V said...

Aww, Theresa. Love your imagery & your husband`s love & understanding.

As I sit here, pondering, images of "Watership Down" flood my mind.

{Paul, I made it here! LOL}

Gabreael said...

It's nice to see you back.





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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken


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