memory: art


March 2012

Our tents stood at the edge of a cornfield. It must have been before summer, because the crops were not very high. It was early in the morning when I opened the tent, which I shared with my little sister. The big tent of my parents was still closed. A flurry of fog above the cornfield, the grass under my feet still wet. Standing in front of the tent opening, I got dressed - no socks, no shoes. Bare feet gave me a sense of freedom.

I walked along the tents until the end of the field, and then entered a dark path between trees, which lead to an old barn. I knew, since I had been there the day before with my dad. I knew that many animals lived there, and a woman. At the end of the path, I paused for a moment. I did not see any people. I walked silently to the big cages, where chicken and other birds resided. The animals walked and fluttered behind the wire. The turkeys looked mean and made a screaming noise. Rabbits hopped around freely in the garden. I sat down, picked some grass and stretched my grass filled hand before me, in an attempt to feed the rabbits. They gazed at me, but did not approach me. I waited.

I heard the sound of a creaking door and looked up, moved. The rabbits disappeared behind the shrubs. A woman stood in front of the barn. I could not see her face in the shadow. I was sure that she had noticed me, but she did not call me. I walked slowly to the barn. I stepped on a stinging-nettle, but walked on. When I was close to her, she greeted. Her face was friendly, grey hair hung in a string on her back. “Are all those animals yours?” I asked her and she nodded. A grey and red parrot sat next to her on a stick.

The woman took me inside, in her barn house.  I saw sofa’s and a wooden table. Flowers in buckets, two cats sleeping in a zinc tub. I touched all things with my fingers: the flowers, the sofa’s, the uneven edge of the wooden table. Then I saw the vase, on top of a cabinet. It was filled with tall feathers ending in the shape of an eye, purple, blue and green. I stared. The woman laughed. “Do you like them?” she asked, “What you see there, is art. Have you seen the peacocks?”. I had seen them indeed, I did find them a little scary, as they moved their heads towards me like they would start picking. The woman pointed at the door opening, where one of the peacocks passed. “Pay attention”, she said, and I paid attention. The big bird shook his head and then lifted his tail. Thousand purple-green eyes looked at me. Gently, I approached the peacock, but he dropped his tail and walked away, nodding. I did not dare to say anything. The woman laughed at me, picked one of the feathers from the vase and handed it to me. I thanked her and ran away, through the garden, across the dark path, back to our tent.