A response to an exhibition entitled Denken (‘Thinking’) at the Columbia Museum of Cologne The rooms are vast, and some are filled with birds, dead birds - But we know a few crows are still alive. Is it a maze or a temple - a temple or a prison? ‘I ran from wall to wall,’ the prisoner said. ‘while the current buzzed from floor to ceiling. I ran from room to room, and then the current latched on to me.’ The rooms are vast and some are filled with stones - and some are filled with Time, The rooms are vast and some are filled with paper - with Pure Reason - The rooms are vast and some are filled with ink. * Some follow the lotus, some follow the rose and some follow the Holy Ghost - while others watch the crow. And then there are those who become the lotus and also become the rose; there are those who can hear the Holy Ghost speak to crows. * Today, petals wet with rain breathe life into your prayers. Leaves drink in birdsong, feathers drink in the sun, and now the birds sing louder, a song praising water. Everything breathes and all the colours are awake. Milky white, cream, yellow, green - a fragrant, windswept green. If you lose your way, you might find a thicket where deer hide their young. Behind you, a trail leads to an orchard. And look, over there, roses get all the sun. Pale shades of pink and saffron, then bright red, maroon, blue - so much blue, and deep violet. And then, dragonflies, - hundreds of dragonflies dart back and forth - The air whirrs, electric - Even the light thrums with sound as it shimmers - You turn and turn, trying to follow, and see this garden suddenly veiled in iridescent lace. Violet shadows fall across a golden light. Light spills through dragonfly wings, through those wings, across each lotus - Light spills through dragonfly wings, across water - so much water where all the colours swirl - And then black, black hiding everywhere, black moving with sudden leaps - impatient, this rapid dance of being - Shall we listen to the story about the Dragonfly and the Lotus? Shall we listen to the story about the Deer and the Rose? There’s a child standing over there who remembers such stories - a girl who watches those flames. ‘Who will you be?’ she asks. ‘Do you want to be the Dragonfly or the Lotus? The Deer or the Rose?’ Is it really a flame that flowers beneath the Holy Ghost, a flame the color of blood? She says a blood red rose has blossomed beneath the Holy Ghost - petals blown apart by a storm we cannot see. Threads of blood like puppet strings. ‘Puppet strings,’ the girl repeats, ‘those puppet strings are threads of blood.’ * There’s a sound of bees in the clover, bees in the honeysuckle, and a distant, distant sound of bells - Hushed as a whispered lullaby, the hum of bees so close - And gentle, so gentle, the faint chant of bells that spill down to us in the valley - But you won’t find the bees and you won’t find the bells. It’s a song of the Holy Ghost, a song that will never end. It’s a song that will enchant you, invite you to linger for a while. ‘How beautiful!’ you’ll say. ‘Those bells in the distance, how they mingle with this movement of bees in thick clover.’ Such sweetness and moistness only sharpen the sting. But soon the bees will begin to sound like machines. The tune will be wrong and you’ll notice a mechanical hiss while the bells in the distance will ring with pain. Voices from meadows sticky with blood. Burnt trees, burnt fruit. But you thought you heard the sound of bees. You thought the angels would always return, you thought good spirits still lived in the trees. ‘My soul is scarred!’ you’ll say. ‘Erosion is within me.’ Perhaps only crows have the strength to live through such a song, to take such a song into their hearts. Only crows can understand its hidden beauty. ‘It’s inhuman!’ you’ll say. ‘It’s implacable!’ The bees don’t really sound like bees any more.’ And then, you’ll turn away in disbelief, wondering what brought you here - you’ll feel compelled to flee from this noise which hurts your ears. And yet, you’ll return to the source of your pain, wondering if you’re mistaken - The song calls you back, keeps you in thrall - this tune doesn’t change, doesn’t bend or swerve from its burning brightness. Is it all a ruse, or simply Truth - colder than you had imagined? The current swirls closer and something answers, something within your heart, your throat - Perhaps the bees are wiser, perhaps the bells ring with love - and it’s you who needs to learn their language. ‘My soul is scarred!’ you’ll say. But you will still listen for that was your journey. It’s a song that’s unbearable but you will still listen.