About Anna Chamberlain

I’m a painter, writer, photographer, composer, digital artist, and vocalist.

Polaris


 

Niveous Skies

This story is a wind
Arriving from the sun
Magnetospheric particles collide
Birthing aurora borealis,
Prismatic ribbons of light

Forming above the Kara Sea
Past the Nordenskiöld Archipelago
Magnetic fields demarcate
These lines of extinction
Drawn in distant reaches

Siberian land of the polar bear
Seal-hunter at the edge of sea ice
Maritime transmutative shamans
Mythic shape-shifters
Become human at home

Breathed into being by Daedal Spirits
As foretold Polaris is born
Guiding star of a lost tribe
Daughter of Ursa Major,
Resplendent mother of the night sky

Artemis

Polaris bundled, newly formed
Left on Artemis’ threshold
Raised with the knowledge
In the summer of her third year
She must journey to a place
Beyond her imagining

Artemis, Wild Woman, warns
Of the myriad dangers:
Ice Wraiths with hypothermic
Breath spread madness
Treacherously thin ice floes
Carrying everything far out to sea
Sloughing glaciers sending
Animals to watery graves

But the worst fate
To be enchanted by
The siren call of Hearth Fires
Pernicious creatures, specious promises
Desire demons that consume the soul
Paralyzing monsters that trap
An eternity of wasting away

As Polaris grows she learns
Of the fantastical menagerie
Artic animals of special powers
Sagacious and far traversing terns
Narwhal that know the secrets of death
Their songs, talismans against the end
Caribou that resonate harmony
Trickster foxes with capacious minds

Around the home fires
She begins to understand her human form
Its drives and intellections
Streams and sanctuaries of creative flow
She prepares a fitting place and learns
The 1000 sacred names of snow
How to be invisible in her bear cloak
White on white, moving like the wind
Across this icy land

She explores, tests her strength
Contemplates being, leans into life
Scrying colored lights in the dark
Feeling the warmth of midnight sun
Pulse of life deep within calling her forth
She awaits the catalyst, transformation
That will initiate her quest
Her journey to the source

Novaya Zemlya

And so she waits breathing
Beauty into the world
Sings new songs of awakening
Her streams becoming rivers
Roaring across her inner landscape
As the Kara flows through
Baydaratskaya Bay to feed the sea

In the Spring of her third year
Prowling the northern borders
She arrives at Novaya Zemlya
Ice-scoured fjords, narrow inlets,
Guarded by skerries
Upon the wind is a melody
Like none heard before

Lured closer she learns too late
Of the infestation of Hearth Fires!
Their radioactive contamination
Lairs in nuclear submarine reactors
Half-life remnants of the Cold War
Becquerel bravado still feeding evil
Melodies turn to piercing cries
Polluting her sanctuary of creativity
Poisoned, weakened, she seeks counsel
Artemis, now contaminated cannot aid her
Sends her to speak with the narwhal

‘All my songs have been stolen by the wind
My mind and purpose are clouded
This hunger for art is now insatiable
Artemis is also sickened, please help us’
The keeper of death’s secrets
Intones into Polaris to discern
A cure, ‘This pollution is a fire
Malevolent psychic complex
Devouring your spirit,
Only the aurora borealis
Can heal your wounds
You must now journey to a place
Beyond your imagining’

Midnight Sun

‘How will I make it
Carrying this burden of disease
Though these vast wilds?’
‘You must learn to trust
Overcome your fear and begin
I will give you this iolite amulet
When the time comes you will
Know its purpose, now go’

So Polaris, invisible in her bear cloak
Walks along the path that
Will take her to the edge of
Everything she has known
The nights become like days
She remembers little of life before
Forgets why she is searching
Loses her sense of direction
Beleaguered and exhausted
She digs a den beneath the snow pack

Taking off her bear cloak
Visions of her inner life return
There were sacred names
Hands that made things
A riverbed; was there a river?
Her voice croaks a broken song
She burrows deeper
Ice wraiths gather seeing
That she does not wear her fur
Stalk and whisper frosty exhalations:

‘Sleep, sleep little one
Stay, tell us your troubles little one’
Polaris closes her eyes dreaming
Of the song the Hearth Fires sang:
‘Come rest here by the fire
You are so very cold,
This will warm you from the inside’
She is offered a metal chalice
Peers into the cup
Blue flame dances within
‘Drink it, we will care for you’
One sip and the song’s melody
Transforms to piercing screams

‘You are in our domain
Your passion is now ours
We have marked you with our wounding
Stolen your music and laid claim to your life
All your days you will wander lost
Unable to mend your inner being
Your voice will bear our fire!’

The wraiths combine into one
Circinate being, move in for the kill
Wolves, drawn by the whispers
Snarl, growl, and destroy the Wraiths
Wrap Polaris in her cloak
Curl their white furred bodies
Round her in a healing circle

Sanctuary

“We are powerful hunters
Have found you hidden here
Saved you from the Ice Wraiths
Yet even we see that your wounding
Goes deeper, a censoring that
Stole your voice, your songs
Disease spreading through Artemis
Burning all it touches
We will guide you to the aurora borealis’

So the Wolves take her to the farthest point
‘Here we must return to our lands
Tonight in the liminal space
Earth and Sky unite and you will speak
Through the prismatic lights to the
Daedal Spirits that created you
Returning to Earth to share your healing
Curing the North of this radioactive plague’

Polaris waits, tries to craft a song
For the approaching ones
But the fire scorches her throat
Weeping and weakened she clutches
Iolite amulet to her heart
Night’s curtain falling she looks
Toward Ursa Major
Niveous sky clears as the
Lights gather, sweeping in spirals
Vortex of blue, green, and red

Daedal Spirits speak
‘You are ill, contaminated by
Man’s industry, Hearth Fires
Severing your connection to
Our creative flow
We are the source
You must clear the channels
Let the eutrophication of the river end’

‘How do I remove this poison?’
Daedal Spirits swarm about her
Lift her into the space between
Earth and Sky, singing harmonics
Trembling from the sound that
Resonates within, her iridescent amulet
Pleochroic iolite radiates prismatic light
Polaris sings her own songs joining the melody
Hearth Fire no longer igniting inside
Passion and meaning coalesce
She is returned to Earth

‘Remember the sacred names of snow
Run with the Wolves
Quell the Hearth Fires, banish them
We did not create you to be constrained
To be beholden and broken
Be wild, allow the river to rage

Originally posted at Chromapoesy as a serialized poem for NaPoWriMo culminating here: Polaris

Mere Beasts (Cont.)

19. Apophatic
(Ophelia) I find that in the process
Of declaring this moment, this thought,
As what defines, delineates me
That in the next moment I reject the idea
I found was all encompassing
The world, my internal landscape
Proves too vast and unknowable

I am always trying to stop
At a point in time to reach contentment,
Clinging to it;
Spreading it thinly across the hours to come
When it wears away I start again and think
(as if it never occurred before)
It will stay!
That I have at last won and the answer is granted -
The key to happiness

23. Shame
(Ophelia) Reality, reality is too cruel!
One moment, no chance to relive things
Reality is for people imprisoned
Addicted to being victimized
I can control my world
That is real freedom
(Who calls this madness?
I will brook no captious dissenters!)
The liberation which we dare not name
Too afraid to even whisper
Who needs society’s labels?
I have found happiness
Control, complete control
Infinitely superior to the curse of reality!

Mere Beasts (cont.)

13. The Trull
(Lavinia) I tried so hard to be only one thing,
Contain my multiplicity
Conform to the rules,
In so doing I damaged
The very part of me that I sought to express

Strange how I became a painter
In order to belong to myself; to express a self
To explore the myriad paths to my soul
And ended up wounding it
I became possessed by the world –
At such a small price
How quickly I was lost when tempted

I wanted it – I convinced myself it was the fulfillment of my ambition
I lost my source, my essence, my soul
It was precious, but I did not know to protect it

What does it mean to have lost my integrity?
I am a trull, selling out the soul that fed the work
I wanted to be the center of attention
They are merely circling around me
With no love for me – my humanity

I have only fed them through the mask
A mirror for their projected desires
They are vain; they wanted me to reflect them
My vanity distorted me to their pleasure
Pandering soul!
Starved for love – no integrity at all
Do I pity you or avenge my honor?
For that which was stolen, defiled, and ravaged

I am sick; ill from your poisonous fallacies
Here the world has set my penance
For my lack of discernment
It has robbed me of the tool of my crimes
Poor hand, it was under orders from the world,
My own vain striving!

Justice was swift and absolute
I cannot even seem to make use of myself
I have been deemed unworthy of service –
What is there for me now?

Mere Beasts (cont.)

6. Deep Grief
Death entered the rooms of her soul,
Unwelcome and alien
Permeated the air
Sleep was her only comfort,
The denial of dreams
Truth returned each morning, aching
Nothing in her waking hours could drive it away
Time had betrayed her -
No solace gained through its passing

The memory of life before became distant
The memory of her love transfigured into a specter;
A cruel trick

She could feel the world
Slipping from her mind
Meaning drained from her face,
Replaced with an effigy:
Becoming the object of her own scorn
Confusion lined her eyes,
Now emptied of other expression

In the recesses of her secret self she began to be afraid
Not of death, stalking her thoughts, but insanity
A far greater apprehension –
Death is certain,
Sanity not so fixed!

The onset of madness,
Robbing her lucidity, was subtle,
A slow and silent poison
It weighed upon her as if tangible, haunting her
The connection between her innermost being
And the outer world dissolving -
She began mimicking his death

Mere Beasts

Introit

Titus: An if your highness knew my heart, you were.-
My lord, the emperor resolve me this:
Was it well done of rash Virginius
To slay his daughter with his own right hand,
Because she was enforc’d, stain’d, and deflour’d?

Saturninus: It was Andronicus.

Titus: Your reason mighty lord?

Saturninus: Because the girl should not survive her shame,
And by her presence still renew his sorrows.

Titus: A reason mighty, strong and effectual;
A pattern precedent, and lively warrant,
For me, most wretched to perform the like:-
Die, die Lavinia, and thy shame with thee;
(He kills Lavinia)
And, with thy shame, thy father’s sorrow die!*

*Titus Andronicus (V.iii.38-51) by Shakespeare

King: This is the poison of deep grief;
… poor Ophelia,
Divided from herself and her fair judgment,
Without which we are pictures, or mere beasts.*

* Hamlet (IV.v.40, 48-50) by Shakespeare

1. Lavinia

Lavinia, a name haunted by shame
The daughter who loses all:
Dignity, hands, tongue, maidenhead, self
To receive mercy at her father’s hand
One more victim of life’s grave cruelty

This one born centuries later
Failed by the protection of a father
No husband or brothers to stand with her

She forges bold expressions in paint
With precision, a line well reasoned
And true – cutting through post-modern isms,
Edge of identity and visual field

Her work: prodigious, collected, critiqued
Viewed by the elite –
Discerning, argumentative, and informed

Yet she is gnawed away inside at the sacrifice
Required by her acceptance –
That which is like a man’s –
Hard edged, logical, demanding, and concrete
Where Eros’ sweet invitation is laid fallow,
By ego’s sharp curbing of her free expression
Complexity, variation – her creative forces:
Divergent streams, converging, are still

2. Ophelia

Ophelia, sweet child, dominated by powerful men
Abandoned to grief and madness
Her last moments, a watery slip
May have been unintended consequence
Or dire injury
Consecrated – and yet we wonder
Who is culpable?

A modern woman now faces
The same pernicious forces
That may divide her from her own precious reason
Professor of mathematics, her intellect, ratiocinative,
Attempts to quantify the carrying capacity of the earth
What can it hold, nurture, sustain
Without ruin, lack of renewal,
Or toxic inundation?

Her losses, both great and universal
Small and specific
Her shame-filled love
Will serve as the crucible
Over which her sanity may be fractured

3. Pictures

(Art Critic, Yves) Lavinia’s art is a concatenation
Of architecture, minimalism, post-modernism, and conceptual art
Her meticulous line acknowledges the reality
Of the restricted world in which we find ourselves:
Measured, under surveillance, scientifically dissected
Without irony

Unlike Julie Mehretu’s marks
Which work against a Fascist imposition of order
Conveying a fundamentally humanist message
Lavinia’s work shows the intense naïveté
Of such leanings

Like the steady, deft hand of a butcher
She cleaves idealism at its root!
Unlike women of the past
She shows no propensity to politicize gender
No weakness for sentimentality
No shying away from the cruelty of existence
This fearlessness, an emboldened stance,
A primary ingredient in her acuity
Leads her to a new vision:

A post apocalyptic world without nostalgia
The world as it is becoming:
Crowded, populated by individuals
mainly concerned with their own needs and desires

An open wound
Increasingly destroyed
Not to be made again into paradise
But simply to be destroyed
She is the bravest artist of the 21st century

4. Lavinia

Pre-figured symbols and signifiers
Are land mines of meaning and association
Figurative art remains reactionary,
Revealing underlying ideology
Nonrepresentational art isn’t the basis of a movement,
a call to action, or directive

Within it there is no agenda,
Cannon of aesthetics,
Or political ground
The visual language exists within its own independent logic
Unburdened by oppressive modalities