The Language of Leaves

Kristi Johansen

As the Australian poet Judith Wright notes, how possible is it ever to listen to the "language of the leaves,"  to perceive the natural world, the world of exteriority to the observing self—as anything other than colonized. Dame Edith Sitwell claimed she was all leaves.... 
Setting; A north facing apartment.                 
a doorway, a table and a grove   

Downstage right

With its many versioned silences 
of observation 
a supression imposed 
some muffled, muted 
and receded
this barely utterable presence
talk discredited: no colon needed 
for she is spoken for...

left-aligned, dialogue           
                                                               Disrupt; and the great sighs of the world break out,
Strong gusts of impatiens
                                                                      frailties, vulnerabilities
                                                                      over sensitive, sensational
                                                                      fragile, fragmented and fuck that,
                                                                      I am all leaves
                                                                      The aged, the broken, 
                                                                      the torn and the heaving 
 then leaving...  
 slam the door... 

Stage direction;  folds, retreats, withers, 

          alone,       its quiet here,      amongst all the said

the saying and the speechless......
These small leafy extracts 
Interjecting; insisting upon their own existence.

Enter;           Foliage Grandi ( with Drag Strip courage)
                     ALL CAPS centre-aligned
                     in a major triad chord 
                     Polysyllabic, polyphonic, polyamorous...
                     A weeping in prostrata 
                     curls of music
                     in full blown harmony

                                                                        From whose axil do they they arise?
                                                                       bract, sepal, petal, stamen and carpel?
                                                                       Are they of foreign extract?...
                                                                       an imported variety, the vascular , non- native,       
                                                                       invasive type?

Retort; Or a delicate, 
vibrating range of difference?
in true choreographic form  
Syllables uttering syllables, of the deepest affinity
speaking to and from the mystery


our body
digging deep with rhizomes into inner landscapes                       

a transpiration.
A Watering with our tears as the silent river flows inside us. 
*I borrowed the line ‘Drag strip courage’ from the lovely Tom Waits.                   

Johansen’s story, was framed by the strong yearning voices of Franklin, Springfield, Black, Bassey and the theme to West Side Story at an early age; further foreshadowed by the influence of a late 70’s defiance and anarchy. Her story was claimed for a time by addiction,  a mental and spiritual illness, but she reclaims it immersing herself in a creative life pursuing the redeeming love of telling story in whatever its forms. 

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