The Tern

One Day to Play

For one day National Theatre Scotland teamed up with the Orkney Folk Festival to bring together different artists and give them a chance to work together. It was a privilege to be partnered with dance artist Julia McGhee (twitter @McGheeJulia) who transformed my words into movement and gave a brilliant performance inspired by the birds around the Peedie Sea.  The poem was performed at The Girnel, Orkney Sailing Club on Friday 25th May along with other pieces developed during the day and an open mic session with Karen Tweed and performers from The Cheviot, the Stag, and the Black Black Oil.

The Tern

Watch the air
after
outstretched fingers
have gone.

See where the shadows
briefly
played.

Scissor winged cutting,
White knifing the air,
Carving, sculpting
Tapuii
Invisible to the eye.
Not fact,
Not storyline.
I the blind fact reader.

You will not be slave
To my not present,
To the fact of invisible.

You see the patterns,
The dance of ribbons,
The air’s cooling,
Beckoning the cloud.

Air sun-graced,
More than impulse
From skin to cell,

Raw material for ephemeral
Wing beat art.
Black-capped maestro
Neck raised, arched,
Braced hard against nothing
I can see.

Desperate to feel what pushes against
The breast of another.
To float, to pause in your
Inspiration.

Show yourself,
Despite my limits
And ignorance,
A fleeting vision
Of your world.

All is colours and shapes
That rebel against
Holding narrative.

Gasping
Reeling from the hit
Of the explosive moment.

Now seeing the
Turquoise asymptotes
The tunnels, cerise and gold,
Sweeping parabolas of
Teal and silver ended
Spirals
Weft with black threads
Of the wind
That partners and lifts.

A dynamic flow,
A streaming universe of
Temporal bliss.

You land and become still,
Become still,
Another masterpiece.

Watch the air
after
outstretched fingers
have gone.

See where the shadows
briefly
played.

Words – Gabrielle Barnby

Dance – Julia McGhee

One Day To Play, National Theatre ScotlandOrkney Folk Festival, May, 2019