Sappho : Thoughts from Manchester Art Gallery...

By Lucy Harbron - 19:02

So many are pulled here, heard the call to arms to sit at the feet of the lost and lonely, to give Sappho their tears are she stays frozen on the brink of her own, whispering; remember whom you leave shackled by love, in a glass frame, on a wall in Manchester. Heartache on display, on tour for the lonely hearts to see. Sitting in front of her and I feel the need to confess my sorrows, show my own in return for hers, given unwillingly. Sitting in front of her and I want to strip myself bare, tear off my clothes for her, place myself under her eyes, my hand on the glass and try to hold the cold paint from which she was made, unknowing. Sitting in front of her and I feel some sense that her soul was left locked in the likelihood, left waiting for love to return for which she will raise her gaze and finally, weep.

Until then I don’t want to speak. I wish for the room to fall silent, for the guide in the corner to stop trying to explain in any words other than her own. While the lovers no longer sing their song, we have no right to sing along, so sit down. Shut up. Only hum the refrain silently in your head for all the goodbyes and unwilling exits made. Remember in secret the cold stones your feet have felt, the waiting on cliffs for a return that never came. Hear the sound of the funeral you made of that love. Don’t taunt her with vocalisation, shh. No chorus here, no choir singing, just silent soloists naturally knowing the words hidden behind painted skin.

Where do your eyes fall? Not to the chest but to the arm. The lean of longevity, still staying stood and patient, respectful to the possibility of reunion and the ceremony it would deserve. To the bare feet of abandon, of rushing out of the house, of chasing her down the street, of pavements and stones and coals you’d step on to bring her home, of how unexpected it was that she left, of how unprepared you were for this. To the eyes, tired and stinging stoney, paused in the moment before the flood and disallowed the relief of it, averted from those that try to meet them, that dare try to relate to this pain, this image of love unknown but certainly gone. She keeps us distant as if her gaze would show some paradise, a memory she must ration for only herself.

Turned to the sea she begs for relief, for permission to cry or die or something, to not be confined to here, this feeling, this place, this wall in Manchester where onlookers try to explain in words other than her own, make a mockery of her pain as they wrap arms around lovers at the foot of her stone. She begs to be left alone.

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