This exchange of poems began when Bronwyn Davies heard on email from Jane Speedy's friends in Bristol, United Kingdom, that she had had a massive stroke. Bronwyn responded by writing a poem, sending it to Jane's friends—as a contribution to their emails to each other, in which they expressed their shock and sorrow—and she posted it by snail mail to Jane, hoping one day she would be up to reading it. Some considerable time later, Jane responded with another poem, and so this conversation between two academic women, whose lives are changing in totally unanticipated ways, began.
I want to be apprenticed to experts in making/to get lost in making stuff/I yearn to cut etchings/engravings/sculpt bronzes/alabaster/soapstone and wood/spend days in rooms reeking of clays and ash glazes/resin and oil or acrylics/work soft charcoals/pastels or graphite and soak oily inks into frail handmade papers/shoot films that stay still or that move with a flicker/and saturate canvas with color and texture and light/I want to build pyramids/out of old Zimmer frames/wheelchair parts and lost left slippers/I have seen inside the studios/life drawing rooms/the print rooms/the huge windows/lost dreams in the long white gallery walls/I have stepped into the crevices beneath paint-splattered floors/I had an interview for the art school/it was me and five 18-year-old girls (one of whom liked the deep pink streak in my steel grey hair and wished her grandma had one too) together with our portfolios/and the tutor/in the print room/with the big old nineteenth-century iron press/back to Virginia and the Hogarth press/and cardigan pockets filled with stones/and finding our art starting in the middle/with a sentence such as/“Mrs. Dalloway decided to buy the flowers herself”/is this too much for me to handle in one year? Will I exhaust myself?
You talk of texture/color and line/ and I look out of my window and into the trope of Virginia's fog /stretching out between us/ the sharper/brighter colors of the sunlight in Aus/stretching across to the damper darker hues of northern Europe/the harsh burn of the sun on Uluru in the evening extending around the earth to reach the Celtic blue of Stonehenge/caught in the fog amidst our layers of sedimentary rock/we are in conversation.