Workshop filth and seeds
by Rachel Clarke
I started to piece together memorable fragments from the workshops and then thought: “What could this feel like if I was something else?”
I am worm
The containers in the garden are high. The ground around them is hard and rough for my sensitive skin. I’ve heard there are other pots in the garden, but I stay in the containers, feeding, gorging, twisting and turning, dancing in the soil. I go up down, left, right in the dark. I’m not looking for a mate, just feeling way through the glorious filth of people’s rotting left overs, the leaves from the autumn trees, the carcases of dead insects and animals, the ground down grit and grime of the city.
If someone comes along, we’ll have sex, sure I’m friendly like that. Anyone will do. I’ll create a cosy slime duvet to cuddle up with my beloved until we’re done. It’s not lonely down here. We’re all friendly, making more of us, squirmy wriggly new versions of ourselves, lots of us, if we’re happy. I don’t listen to the muffled voices above, just feel the vibrations of footsteps, trains, cars and rain. The rain is good when it comes. I head to the surface to feel it fresh and hard on my back, but have to avoid the tricky birds. The blackbird in spring is good at finding me, even when it is hot and dry, she will dig and turn over the dirt leaving a trail of destruction. In winter I need to avoid the robin. There is less cover to hide and I am more easily discovered.
I am nettle
I am nowhere to be seen on the concrete streets, roads, gardens or in the park. The pristine pedicured grass with summer excitement, people playing football, having picnics and stomping around. I can not see my own kind, not even at the dark edges, where I like to hang out. But beneath the canopy of the trees there is a giant forest of friends, sitting and protecting the roots of the very old trees. Deep down underground I am healing the soil, changing it, fixing nitrogen for the trees to help them grow and stay healthy and calm and whole, so they don’t drop their branches like leaves. We are cordoned off. Our spot is separate from other people so they don’t get stung by me. Stay away and don’t spend time in the dark spiny forest where I have been allowed to prosper with the trees and crawlies.
I can’t wander freely at the surface as I am contained, but underneath the ground I can do what I want. I can spread and spread my roots until something hard like a fence means I find a new route. I can spread and spread my seeds in summer across the grass, when the wind shakes them free and birds and insects feed, and carry them out and about. If I wander too far across the grass they take me away before I can take hold. I hope at least when they do this they are making me into refreshing tea.
I am dandelion
The meadow is filled with colour and despite being bright yellow, I am well hidden amongst the weeds and grass. A cacophony of chaotic colour and shapes in a patch of well managed green. It is a bright summer’s day and I am in full bloom. My thick roots run deep underground and my leaves sprawl and crawl across the grass when I can. Park rangers don’t like this and like to spray me, but I am never too far away. I am resilient and strong and have been around the block. I can find ways to grow wherever I am, so you can’t really stop me. I will be here when you have gone.
Small insects love hiding in my thin rectangular petals where there are layers and layers of time built up like a puff ball of yellow joy. Insects love climbing across the dome of my flower even though their black bodies become visible to feeding birds who swoop and peck them off my bright sunshine shaped cap. My stem is perfectly balanced to allow the heavy queen bumble bee to sit and rest for a while, to drink the nectar before she is on her way to set-up a new home. Pick me at your peril though. The white puss in my veins makes you piss the bed, or so they say. Better pick me when I have turned grey and fluffy with age and you can share my seeds with the wind.
I am rat
There is so much good food to be had in the city. I am never ever hungry finding human scraps is my daily buffet. People are so kind. Sweet and savoury treats in back streets and containers that are so accessible for me and my family to pick at. And my family is getting bigger every day so we have more and more mouths to feed. That doesn’t seem to be a problem though because the food just keeps coming. I like it when it is that time of year when fresh fruit and veg start to appear on the trees and in gardens, people don’t seem to mind that we take it. They sometimes put nets, traps, and fences, to try and stop us but we can work around these things; chewing holes, fooling traps or squeezing our bodies into the smallest of spaces. We need to watch out for the crows though. They are cunning and smart. They watch us from up high and know when we are out and chase us from the food. They like the same food we do, but they can travel for miles and see what is happening from up above. We sometimes learn from them, see where they are hanging out as this is usually where there is some good food to be had.