18th June 2014

The Simple LifeZumbarak Mountains, Croatia2012
On an early morning walk around a tiny village in the Zumbarak Mountains of Croatia, I happened upon this moment.  Suddenly I was transported to a world of such simplicity, where this woman had been waking up before dawn all of her life to milk the cows, feed the livestock and work the land.  She had never married and even suffered a stroke, yet none of it had erased the beautiful smile on her face. The Simple LifeZumbarak Mountains, Croatia2012
On an early morning walk around a tiny village in the Zumbarak Mountains of Croatia, I happened upon this moment.  Suddenly I was transported to a world of such simplicity, where this woman had been waking up before dawn all of her life to milk the cows, feed the livestock and work the land.  She had never married and even suffered a stroke, yet none of it had erased the beautiful smile on her face.

The Simple Life
Zumbarak Mountains, Croatia
2012

On an early morning walk around a tiny village in the Zumbarak Mountains of Croatia, I happened upon this moment.  Suddenly I was transported to a world of such simplicity, where this woman had been waking up before dawn all of her life to milk the cows, feed the livestock and work the land.  She had never married and even suffered a stroke, yet none of it had erased the beautiful smile on her face.

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17th June 2014

Brokpa WomanDah-Hanu, Ladakh, India2009
This woman made quite an impression on me.  She has one of those faces that burns it’s image into your mind long after it is gone.  I heard she has since passed away, but at the time I photographed her, she was the eldest woman of her village. Brokpa WomanDah-Hanu, Ladakh, India2009
This woman made quite an impression on me.  She has one of those faces that burns it’s image into your mind long after it is gone.  I heard she has since passed away, but at the time I photographed her, she was the eldest woman of her village.

Brokpa Woman
Dah-Hanu, Ladakh, India
2009

This woman made quite an impression on me.  She has one of those faces that burns it’s image into your mind long after it is gone.  I heard she has since passed away, but at the time I photographed her, she was the eldest woman of her village.

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Luminous You

16th June 2014

some days 
when the city is like grit under my fingernails 
I remember her and yearn for all she came to mean to me
trying to scrub away the plastic, the rush, the nonsense
my soul calls out to the crevice of that canyon where she stands
no matter that there’s nothing left of her 
that could reply

I first glimpsed that little house from the bend
where the swing hangs on the big berry tree
creak-cracking like my heart
she stood all unassuming, unadorned
save for a single weathered string of prayers flags
that couldn’t send no more damn prayers to no-one

the bush was so wild then
it was a miracle we could spot her
hidden amongst the tall grasses
we’d cut with a sickle till our backs broke
I’d always hoped to live life with the sun beating down
sweat collected on my brow
sculpting dreams out of tumble weeds
and fallen olive seeds

naked teepee poles stood huddling in an embrace
the napes of their bowed necks crossing one another
we’d never dress those poles in their skins
and sit by the hearth of a hand-built fire
or awake to embers trailing smoke to the heavens
we wouldn’t make it that long

I would cross one threshold
or maybe two
your heart and the door to your hand-built home
the fragrance of a thousand incense sticks burned
hung in that stale air
the kind that has been trapped in a breathless room
of prayer and loneliness 

i ran my hands on her rough edges
like the soft squiggly lines around your eyes 
that form angel wings when you smile
you too were filled with rough edges
but you never let me close enough to touch them
and maybe I didn’t want to
afraid to leave you like an open sore
without the dressings of my love

I forget how small she was
and how inescapable was 
my longing for people and laughter
when there was none but your son
and his suspicions of me
still I’d push him on that swing you hung for him
and he’d colour dragons on it’s grainy surface
and in my heart

one night we’d make love while he slept
grasping and groping in that hushed silence
a mountain home knows
feeling the wonder 
of how love creates life
but wishes it not to wake
in the embrace of mistress and not mother

in that same place
we would bend the bows of her roof
and make those walls shudder
wrestling with my wandering heart
her chest heaving a giant sigh
with the pressure of containing 
so many desires in one place
with wood and nails

there was not enough room for doubt
though it had slept by our side for long
making mind King where love once reigned
its hunger grew and grew
and soon it consumed everything
'till we were left with no choice
but to save what we could by setting it free

still we had many memories to make
and many miles to cross
before I’d find the guts to leave
there was no ignoring what we’d seen
in each other and in ourselves
and that home came to feel
like our agonizing failure
at simplicity

we’d pack our bags once again
burn countless sticks of incense
and close the door on those prayers too
we’d cross that spot on the dewy grass
where you once spread a blanket and made love to me 
in blinding winter sunlight
that same spot where you sat with friends
as I chased your boy on the land
and from a window saw you play a lute
with the kind of grace
my body knows of your hands

just before the berry tree
where the bend curves and narrows
and the trail leads to the wooden bridge
over that tiny gurgle of spring water
I turned around to take one last look at her
a feeling of mystery enveloped me
like the full moon at midnight
glimmering blue 
on the smooth edges of grass stalks

I brought one hand to my heart
and bowed my head
for it was not I who had crossed her threshold
but she who had crossed mine
and though she was never to be my home again
she had spun a web in my empty corners
where you and all things from the gypsy road
would remain trapped 
long after you were gone

we’d turn our backs on her and keep on walking
to stranger lands that’d make us strangers of each other
and later I’d hear that she was too tiny
and too full with our remembrances
to give you any peace
so you too left her barren for the city 
and its people whom you once loathed
but in whose faces you could forget mine

I’d come to live in the city I once loathed too
but I’d discover every place is okay if I am
that’s when I started loving me
and I stopped fighting loving you
grief, regret and nostalgia
would bust me open at my seams
and I’d begin to understand
how that little house felt trying to hold it all in

so now here I stand 
still like that empty mountain house 
yet filled with the memory of you
like a stream of moon-sparkle glowing white
you illuminate
the edges of a black shore
where everything is forever perfect
even if it never was

image

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