by Kristi Johansen
Of edited responses and censoring, following conventions and conversations scriptures that heretofore blunted me I Seep....Turn to me I transgress, I dilate, I pour, I weep ....Turn to me Breathe, You are not scorned, nor stale nor discarded ....Turn to me Breathe, gasp, A beautiful curious breathing swallow the eyes follow the hand, gently lean backward, inhale, It starts with a body, yours, mine? vagrant sweetness, hauling the years the weight of this living weight shifts Move, relocate migrate touch anything you can get your hands on, (What is less or more than a touch?) I am touched to the quick, moved to the fore, drawn to the heart Is this then a touch? ere’ one mother here ready to bust, to nudge, press brush up against and hold, unfold the belly rolling downward amongst Shaded ledges and rests Upon palates, canals through vessels lowering the centre gravity with a gradual tightening release... hang your whole weight upon me Unclench Merge.... pushing, pulling, flesh, blood, skin gathering tears the hand travels upward step forward, change positions contracting and releasing Data and the eyes? Follow curves, rolls, shades, crests and pinnacles and each part and tag of me is a miracle. To stroke, pinch, grasp, squeeze, leanin on the parkin metre humpin on the parkin metre.... Divine am I inside and out ascend; an up-soaring and here smiling through the heart a murmur, a whisper a kiss on the winds.
It is said that the best response to trauma is breath, touch and movement, it is also said the meeting with the divine mystery starts in the body. Qigong a meditative and old storied practice itself, threads through the poem a gentle instruction, of breath, movement and release. The poem, in conversation with Walt Whitman’s ‘Song of Myself’, speaks of the shame and the old stories a body has carried. Whitman’s poem urges, ‘urge, urge and urges’ ‘turn to me’. She turns. Shedding old stories, and there she finds soft whisperings of grace, love and forgiveness.
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 she immersed herself in a creative life. Through photographic imagery, digital storytelling, drawing, performance and poetry both as an individual and within community settings she pursues the redeeming love of telling story in whatever its forms.