Thursday, 29 November 2012

Lost Glove

Hope Poetry Gloves - "O wind if winter comes..." from Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind".

Today was one of, if not the, coldest day of the year in this corner of North Wales. The ice was thick on my windscreen and Snowdon Mountain was completely covered in snow. It was the day of my cycling group ride from Porthmadog to Caffi Gwynant and back via Beddgelert. I put on extra layers, including thicker socks. When I arrived at the start of the ride I discovered that I had dropped one of my cycling gloves. By the time I reached the cafe I didn't know whether my hand had warmed up or lost all sensation.
I started to think about all those single gloves that I've dropped throughout my life. Running and walking in the forest I often come across "the dropped glove" and think up stories about its origin and about what the other glove is doing.
A couple of years back an artist based in the Cairngorms had an exhibition using all of the gloves that she had found in the mountains over a period of time. Also, a few years ago I went to see an exhibition by North Wales based printmaker Ruth Thomas. "One winter, Ruth collected a total of 50 dropped and discarded gloves, in a variety of materials from leather to rubber and each one lacking its all-important partner.
"I became fascinated by gloves because they say a lot about the people who wear them, whether it is a little child or a workman,'' she explains. ``There is always a purpose for wearing gloves and it's amazing how many there are lying around when you start looking.

``On a short walk, I could easily find two or three lone ones. Some were lying in the road and had had traffic rolling over them for days, making the fingers splayed and battered. They all have a history and there's something very poignant about that.'' In the case of Ruth Thomas's glove project, the works were given a botanical feel. After entitling her completed collection of glove prints Foxglove, Ruth gave each of them an individual name, based around the Latin term for foxglove,
digitalis .

``I made up scientific names for them all, so a child's glove is called digitalis minor and a lady's glove is digitalis matronalis,'' she explains.

``One, which was found with a finger missing and the other three sticking upright, is called digitalis pseudo-cactus, because it resembles a cactus plant.'',com_zoom/Itemid,28/catid,2/

Collagraph Print by Ruth Thomas
Here is a prose poem by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Yellow Glove
What can a yellow glove mean in a world of motorcars and governments?

I was small, like everyone. Life was a string of precautions: Don’t kiss the squirrel before you bury him, don’t suck candy, pop balloons, drop watermelons, watch TV. When the new gloves appeared one Christmas, tucked in soft tissue, I heard it trailing me: Don’t lose the yellow gloves.

I was small, there was too much to remember. One day, waving at a stream—the ice had cracked, winter chipping down, soon we would sail boats and roll into ditches—I let a glove go. Into the stream, sucked under the street. Since when did streets have mouths? I walked home on a desperate road. Gloves cost money. We didn’t have much. I would tell no one. I would wear the yellow glove that was left and keep the other hand in a pocket. I knew my mother’s eyes had tears they had not cried yet, I didn’t want to be the one to make them flow. It was the prayer I spoke secretly, folding socks, lining up donkeys in windowsills. To be good, a promise made to the roaches who scouted my closet at night. If you don’t get in my bed, I will be good. And they listened. I had a lot to fulfill.

The months rolled down like towels out of a machine. I sang and drew and fattened the cat. Don’t scream, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t fight—you could hear it anywhere. A pebble could show you how to be smooth, tell the truth. A field could show how to sleep without walls. A stream could remember how to drift and change—next June I was stirring the stream like a soup, telling my brother dinner would be ready if he’d only hurry up with the bread, when I saw it. The yellow glove draped on a twig. A muddy survivor. A quiet flag.

Where had it been in the three gone months? I could wash it, fold it in my winter drawer with its sister, no one in that world would ever know. There were miracles on Harvey Street. Children walked home in yellow light. Trees were reborn and gloves traveled far, but returned. A thousand miles later, what can a yellow glove mean in a world of bankbooks and stereos?

Part of the difference between floating and going down.

1 comment:

  1. 'Glovetastic!' Love this post, inspiring thoughts on gloves. I often wonder about the person who lost it when I come across one on the hills.
    Great idea for a exhibition, whish I'd seen it.
    thanks, Sarah