A Poetic Response to a Birch Tattoo

A Poetic Response to a Birch Tattoo


I met writer, Phil Callaghan at my solo show at Lauderdale House recently. He was inspired by my Silver Birch paintings and pyrographic drawings on Birch Bark. Phil has written this beautiful and thought provoking poetic response to my work, the start of an on-going collaboration.

Birch Tattoo
A response to a series of artworks of the same title by Cathy Stocker

In a Finnish forest
my soul slipped out
of its mortal skin,
left its human incarnation
by a mouth of injury
and slipped under
a ream of bark of silver birch
and waited.

The birch-skin skinned itself
from the birch’s body
and you took it to England
and turned it into canvas.
My soul-in-transit spoke
through an aperture
in the emigrant peel
and in the ivory integument

you tattooed tree-mementos
of my fellow men,
engraved our lives
on this, my second skin.
Knots in the bark became eyes,
fine lacerations and rough,
raised lesions in the wraith-skin
wounds and scars of infantry.

My soul and the soul of
every immolated soldier
pass on and the forest
lives on in miniature, in
emergences of moss and lichen
mortaring the fissures
brightly and indifferently
in England now as in Finland then.

Copyright Phil Callaghan 2012

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