Spill Writing

Disperse (Chloe Smith)


Pestle. Mortar. Pestle. Mortar. Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang.

A pile of wood and a black cauldron are positioned in the middle of a circle of people sitting in silence with

Pestle. Mortar. Pestle. Mortar. Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang.

At first I just look on. Not sure if I want to engage. Afraid of what it might mean, what emotions I might brew within that pestle and mortar and clang if I do sit with them in this circle. Feelings I want to ignore and shut out and bury deep down, because I have worked hard to do just that.

But onlooking seems somewhat intrusive. As though I’m not part of, as though I’m incapable of grieving- yet I know full well that I am.

There’s something within me telling me to have a go. Just for a bit. And so I grab the

Pestle. Mortar. Pestle. Mortar. Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang.

The wood gets smashed in the pestle and mortar. Bang. Bang. Bang. And my anger. My energy. My held up grief about my grandma, my grandad, my pop, my great aunty whose grave I never visited in Australia, the anticipatory grief about my dog in Sydney, my friend from school, my memory of a time when I thought I was going to lose my sister when she was in a coma years ago, the fear of losing my father and my mother in years to come.

The anger at being too young to not know the value of time spent with them. The fear of who I will lose in the future. The pain of knowing that right now, being a million miles away from my family, I am sacrificing my time with them now to work for a future I hope to have.

These emotions come out. They come out because I have been given permission to have these emotions come out as I bang. Bang. Bang. The. Wood.

I think about my old labrador dog of fifteen years back in Sydney and the time I said goodbye to him before I left for Norwich. When  I grabbed him and hugged him tight. When I told him all the things I wanted him to know, all the things I felt for him about his loyalty, his love, his beauty, his intelligence, his kindness, his ridiculous craziness that always made me laugh. I grabbed him and hugged him and told him these things. Even though he didn’t understand.

My old dog of fifteen years who has always been there to comfort me. And all I can think. All I want. Is to be able to hold him in his last breaths. And I know. I know deep down. That I won’t be able to. Because I’ll be here. In England. A million miles away.

And it makes me sad.

And so I bash clang blash on this wood inside the pestle and mortar, surrounded by others deep in their thoughts of loved ones who have died or will.

When I’ve finished.

I get up.

I throw the crushed wood into the cauldron with other’s crushed wood.

And I leave.

I’ve had my time to re-connect with these feelings.

So I leave. I leave without looking back. I leave the park without looking back at the cauldron, or the others I silently shared my grief with as we all crushed the wood in our pestle and mortars.

Without speaking, without crying. I hold it in because I know that now it’s no longer acceptable to be upset about this.

But wasn’t that the point of the piece? To be able to express this grief at anytime I feel it? To be able to say. I feel pain. I feel sad. I feel grief.

So I say to you now.

I miss everyone who I have lost.

And I will miss everyone I will lose.

-Michelle