Non Scripta

room 1 ECHOES

Dun Laoghaire

Some 23 years ago the world lost my friend to an act of extreme violence in a tree lined lane in a leafy suburb. We were 17 years old. I found myself standing at the edge of that lane for the first time in 23 years.

Signs of spring were abound and the sun was patterning the path in flickers of dappled warm yellow. I document plants everywhere I go and my eyes scanned from the far outskirts. As my brain tried to work out how it felt and my heart beat faster, I wondered if the plants knew her or whether they were fresh and unmarked by catastrophic traumas. I walked by instinct up the path with my camera and started to film each living thing. After a time I sat under the old tree and stroked the moss around its roots. The tree knew. The tree had always been there. Did it bear marks or were its budding leaves and flaking bark the signs of the cycles of newness. Something felt stuck in the breeze. A weight still lived there. Yellow dandelions bobbed their heavy heads and I saw the luminous yellow guards stooped low scanning the grass for clues. The last time I saw this tree there was a big white tent and somewhere in it was a person. The wind seemed to huddle around this one spot as if trapped flapping at a tarp that no longer existed.

I didn’t know how to articulate any of this since it all happened, even all these years on. I did not want the story to be attached to the person, further erasing the young woman she was and replacing her with a cautionary tale told to daughters. A statistic in an ongoing legacy of misogyny and femicide. She existed in unknown mouths as an object anchored to some passing story of horror expected to repeat itself with new names every now and again. She was more than this.

I returned a week later to the lane to plant bluebells(1). I offer a plant without a script so that she can be let go as she pleases.

Fig01.Hyacinthoides non-scripta (Bluebell). When botanists first saw bluebells and tried to find a name, they knew they was related to the Hyacinth but they did not bear the tell-tale mark. In mythology, Hyacinthus was loved by both Apollo and Zephyrus. Zephyrus saw Apollo and Hyacinthus together and in a rage struck Hyacinthus dead. Apollo then commanded Hyacinth flowers to spring from the blood of Hyacinthus and ensured that forever more the plant would be branded with the mark Al. In this act Hyacinthus is claimed by Apollo and forever tied to the story of their death, eternally marked by the trauma enacted upon them. When the Bluebell was discovered to be without this mark, it was named Hyacinthoides non-scripta, or the Hyacinth which has not been written on. The bulbs do not retain the stories of the past, they are blank fresh white paper.

Karen Browett
Karen Browett
Sound walks and audio studies



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