There is No Other
A Youtube video of a Woman hugging and kissing Her lion on the mouth unexpectedly set me on an inquiry into mourning. During the summer of 2010 I decided to visit Her sanctuary for animals that She had saved from menageries and circuses. My translator had to call several times and argue with Her before we were allowed a viewing of Her kingdom. Once in, my fellow artist, the translator, the taxi driver and I were given a tour by a worker. She displayed a bronze statue of Herself with animals resting at Her feet and perched on Her shoulders at the entrance, alongside two murals, one of evil men beating animals, and one of the Garden of Eden. These quixotic, scriptural images were more intriguing to me than the living, mutilated animals that She had saved. I was most held by, and became haunted by, a display at the front of the operation which sat opposite a wall of articles printed in foreign newspapers praising Her work. Many dozens of badly taxidermied figures fell all over one another. They were former animal residents of the refuge, so many were deformed from abuse during life, others from wear and tear after death. When each died She had them stuffed in order to continue using them as proof to shame human cruelty, but, I believe, also because She loved them. She then allowed Her eternal Garden of Eden to fall into disrepair. Dead leaves settled all over it, the ostrich's head fell off and was placed on the monkey case, and bodies lay in piles. I noticed that more recently deceased residents were buried in a plot. She reigned over and mourned Her first beloved by keeping their bodies intact, but as time heals all wounds of the living, a tangible manifestation of a grief long passed remained. Perhaps its ever-decaying presence caused Her guilt over having moving on, perhaps regret over creating the collection during those times when passions were high, or even annoyance at Her lack of foresight. I still wonder what within Her kept Her from sweeping up the leaves and cobwebs.
A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Burning, of a Child in London by Dylan Thomas
Never until the mankind making Bird beast and flower Fathering and all humbling darkness Tells with silence the last light breaking And the still hour Is come of the sea tumbling in harness And I must enter again the round Zion of the water bead And the synagogue of the ear of corn Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound Or sow my salt seed In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn The majesty and burning of the child's death. I shall not murder The mankind of her going with a grave truth Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath With any further Elegy of innocence and youth. Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter, Robed in the long friends, The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother, Secret by the unmourning water Of the riding Thames. After the first death, there is no other.