Anne’s final-ish edit for SST6 – “Diving for Dear Life”

30 Jan

So here it is.

Running time: 5 mins (reads less than that but I think the performance should bring it up to 5 mins)

I’m going for Helena Bonham Carter meets Bjork, slightly unhinged, a bit sad.

I am brain storming colours, so may well replace some of the things she is losing as she drops down for more specific triggers – for example in ‘orange’ I took out ‘the rug on the end of the bed’ and replaced it with ‘marmalade’.


Where I come from,

there is no colour.

It’s soft focus,

No, it’s film noir.

The only sound, icebergs scraping across the ocean floor.

A moaning, dragging, painful sound.

Or is that me, singing?

I know there must be another life than this,

So I pull with my arms and rise up,

through shadows,

future memories

and the comfort of violet darkness,

until blue emerges

and green and yellow mix in

showing my skin to be living,

then orange lights my hair,

fronds tangling around my face

and finally red, complete.

I’m a Technicolor version of myself!

My head breaks the surface and the waves

lift me and

drop me.

I swim for the first time

relishing the battle of me

against the swell.

I learn to live an ordinary life,

feel the way people feel.

I learn new skills,

to keep my tail hidden underneath my skirt,

how to mask my fishy smell,

cut my hair a little shorter,

try not to comb it sitting on the bonnet of a car,

wear a bra to cover my breasts

(they can be so distracting)

take care not to let them feel the coldness of my skin,

find seaweed in my hair

or the barnacles growing along my ribs.

I keep my shell collection to a bare minimum

and pretend I covet shoes instead.

I learn to hum softly under my breath,

keep my song to myself.

My voice,

the things I say,

can give me away as something…


Lately every breath I take draws salt from the ocean

and flavours my tears.

Every step I take is like a blade cutting in.

But I thought everybody feels like this,

so I keep walking.

I didn’t realise that once I put my head above water,

the air would distort my perception of distance

and reduce the scale of everything around me.

You can’t say I haven’t tried to live a life the ordinary way.

But this surface life is not adventure.

This morning I heard gulls shrieking for me to come home.

So I am going back where I came from.

I dive.

Above me the sun makes a valiant attempt to follow,

hot-foot-hopping on the waves,

but where I’m going it can’t come,

the spectrum cannot be,

there will be no colour.

At 50 feet, red is invisible.

My sharp-cut hair,

the dozen long-stemmed apologies,

piccolino tomatoes!

A kiss.

Sleep-shot eyes and tear-taut-face.

Two hundred feet.

Orange is gone.

Kicking through leaves,

October mornings.


Steaming tea.

The warmth of arms.

Rust on a blade.

Three hundred feet.

Yellow green is almost gone.

Sunlight through trees,

the lightness of thought

and the softness of voices,

Golden plums!

Healing bruises.                                          

Four hundred feet.

I lose blue,

that glimpse through the skylight,

forget-me-nots in the milk jug

veins laced across eyelids,

torn shirt.

Five hundred feet.

I am losing violet.

Morning mist and evening shadows,

wilted flowers,

plump pigeon!

Broken promises,

old wounds.

Eight hundred feet.

There is no colour.


2 Responses to “Anne’s final-ish edit for SST6 – “Diving for Dear Life””

  1. mouthypoets February 7, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    Hi Anne,

    Feels like you have bee working industrially on this poem! Good on you for constantly churning it out and taking on feedback as I can tell you are taking on a lot of different issues with this one piece – would be interested to know how your feeling about it when I get back ?

    Anyway,to the poem and my condensed feedback 🙂

    -the title, like the alliteration and the relation to all layers of the poems content, it also feels like it’s a title that is very much written I your own voice.

    -the idea of character you have behind the performance – I am really looking forward to seeing you let the **+* go!

    -some really nice imagery and phrasing in here; violet darkness // fronds tangling around my face // this morning I heard gulls shrieking for me to come home (I can’t help but feel there is a little mermaid gag in this?)

    -like the moments of comedy you have in there, really want to see you pushing them maybe use these lines as testers for stretching your use of pitch, volume and physicality; or is that me singing? // I’m a technicolor version of myself! // to keep my tail hidden under my skirt // how to mask my fishy smell // wear a bra to cover my breasts //

    -it feels like you have fleshed out the characters and narrative massively since I last heard this with Hayley and we were not sure what has happening, the narrative is so much clearer now.

    -great specificity in the list of colours you are losing… They are a great balance of light hearted, humorous and generally emotionally disturbing/ upsetting, I think you could work with the sad manic part of your character really well here.

    Repetition/ redundancies:
    -I feel like your falling into your convocation voice at times, and reiterating images for a number of angels where one image will suffice, I.e. I would cut the following images in favour of highlighting the remaining ones with stanza and line breaks; it’s soft focus, No // a moaning dragging painful sound // through shadows // as something …. Other // I take (from the step line) //

    2. I want more specificity as a replacement for the following lines; I learn to live and ordinary life, feel the way people feel// distort my perception of distance and reduce the scale of everything around ,e (for example?) // I am going back to where I came from (I think you cann more specifically reference which Ocean, lake, pond here?) //
    -also when you are talking about the scpecific colours you are losing I think you can afford to put in a line about all the colours/ things you are losing by returning home because I am not sure the audience will 100percent understand what is happening otherwise,

    3. So what?
    -I feel like I need one or two extra lines at the end before or after there is no colour, what does this mean? Maybe an image of her alone and her hair fully grown? Something that eludes to the bigger picture of the meaning behind why she has escaped to the place and how the end of this journey is different from where she started? Literally a line or too nothing big but something that represents this piece as a whole.

    I hope this helps, I hope it hasn’t muddied your sense of being finished! As I can tell youa have put a mad amount of work into this one,


    • mouthypoets February 7, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

      thank you – it’s never finished till it’s finished… I will crack on, thank you. That’s really helped x

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