What Did I Learn in La Vera?

that we are all aspects of one another
that we divide
and fragment
we offer our ‘subjective’ descriptions
of what we think we seeone person believes there are invisible guides…
another insists this is dangerous paranoiaand K is a strange presenceappears in black and whitewith his subtitled voiceand his Edwardian English

talking to us, gently, humourously,

urging us on
to travel together
with ‘the speaker’

and I listen to voices
and I observe faces

Sometimes I feel very tired
as if I was wearing a cloak of sleep

– is it the result of a late night
or resistance to the Truth?

I observe my resistance
I go into my exhaustion
‘the light of the world’

I admire the affectionate rigorous one
the quiet, gentle

the brilliant – bristling with electricity –
but gentle too

detached, quick –

the passionate
who says the summit
is just another part of the mountain

his impersonal way –

the one who is living the ‘quest’
that is not a quest –

the antithetical, the relaxed
the lover
invoking for the first time ever
Philip Larkin and St Teresa
of Ávila in one breath –

the mothers, the generation
that is going –
the unreliable diagnosis of Alzheimers
(the labels that kill)

and you with your economy and subtlety
and my own substantial ‘experience’
of mothers and old age-

how everybody wants to be useful
and the way we make programmes
for ourselves which restrain us –

and our house is the present moment


The teachings throw us back upon ourselves
they bring us here
and at the same time
I don’t understand them
They offer no escape
confront us with our own


All you are
is a corner of my mind
I go there and I find
you strangely pitiless

merciless you grind
sorrow upon sorrow
your eyes go dull then blind
you love not your own kind

you’re buried in the wind
of your own airlessness


What did I learn?

That all the friends and people I know
are aspects of one mind
I am (one with) all humanity
so my attack on my ‘enemy’
is an attack on myself
my indifference to another
is indifference to myself

We all offer
different descriptions
of the same reality


I feel affection for all
see the beauty of all
verdes rocas, cielos grises

the tolerance, the goodwill
the spinach, the garlic, the red fruit
(with their small stones and Arabic name)
which taste of apples and raisins
of pear and date

and in the robledal
the oak tree split by lightning
that went on growing

the movement of the sap beneath the bark
boulders the size of cars or even busses
tents of green moss, ancestral dwellings

with impenetrable interiors
where thought gets lost
in layers and textures

the tremendous grey clouds
the sky a dark watercolour
stains and bleeds

clouds as big as valleys
in the grey Pilar sees
pale orange mauve and rose


when you don’t want anything
and you know you have everything
fullness flows
like water or coffee
blood and sap

my sorrow as an artist
feeling my work
has hardly been useful to anyone
(except possibly to me
as a kind of mirror
‘resembling dream’)

the bracken orange brown
the ground falling away
the distant sea


waiting for an interval
not wishing to interrupt
but when the natural
flow ends someone else
is always in there before me –
or what I was about to say
has already been said
by another –
la búsqueda
de algo puro
nos lleva a perder
lo que tenemos


the ones with children
the ones without children


you recognize the rivers
love the blackness of night
can find the mushrooms by smell alone


and when we go
to the encuentro
each one with ourselves
we find we are not there
I am not there
there is nobody there


a broom, Alfonso
gives me an impossible task
to sweep an absorbent carpet
with light movements
of particles and skeins
nothing moves
I pick the visible pieces
by hand
but then when Palmira and Jesus
come to sleep in that room
the work has served its purpose


La Vera
land of secondary colours
and sumptuous grey skies
pale ochre figs suspended
the vision of the plain
the earth stretching away
the desire to possess
not as territory but as vision
to possess the vision –

a white dog shivering
to keep warm
but seeing it as something natural –
not requesting a blanket
between his body and the cold floor –
a white dog trembling
but totally accepting –
where when I shiver I think
“Christ what’s wrong with me?”

meditation –
like drawing –
an investigation
not of some ‘external form’
but of the process of drawing itself

of being alive

of the hand moving and the marks she is making
the constant changing –

the rubbings out, the new assertions
the things that look like other things –

the branches that look like lovers
the leaves that meet as tentative kisses…


drawing towards the present UNKNOWN
meditation in the present UNKNOWN

is it pleasurable?

not necessarily

but the results can be interesting –

no it can bring up

a great deal of suffering

sensations of futility…

the endless repetition

of the same confined soul consciousness –

of extreme limitation

facing the wall


half a dozen eggs



I tried to follow the group
but they had disappeared
it poured with rain
and then the downpour grew heavier
I sheltered under an oak
and stayed relatively dry
I saw the others
coming down the mountain side
and went through the gate
behind them into the garden
I wondered if they could see me
but I don’t think they could
as I leaned against
the rough wet smelling tree
(wondered if its base
was someone’s outdoor shitting place)
orange bracken, green moss
purple-grey sky…
the ground wet, the stones slippery –
you could easily get lost –
where are the waterfalls?
the famous gorges?


a greenish sweet liqueur
with ice in a glass –


energy corresponds
with involvement and participation –

sleeping on the lower bunk
with the window open
and the night fresh air –


alive to the minute
the fig tree the lightning


Christopher Twigg
Text and Photography

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