I wanted to share with you a coulee of first draft pieces I wrote for my creative non-fiction paper. They are both about the same object, the shiny ball called “Bearing” along Whanganui River. Both are about the same object, but are written from a different perspective.
A shiny round sphere hovers above the green grass next to the Whanganui river. Its side split deeply open by a rough uneven line. A worn name plate lies on the ground under the sculpture, it reads “Bearing” David McCraken 2011. The river, which this sculpture represents, has been given the rights of a human being. The river breathes with life as it flows up and down following the tides, carrying debris, and the boats and people that make use of the river. It breathes and jumps, ripples and bubbles popping to the surface, and fishermen line the boardwalks catching the fish that come out larger than is expected in this body of water. Seagulls, ducks and herons fly in and out, ducking below the surface, splashing around and bobbing on its surface watching the people as they go about their lives next to the river. The river has eyes. All of this is reflected on the mirrored surface of the globe.
Perhaps this sculpture is a globe. A map of the world where the only important thing is the river that runs through it. The river is large, and has a long history. Just last Christmas it swallowed a car with its teenage occupant deep into its belly. It didn’t let him go until the only present it gave back to the family was the shell that contained the person. The river has consumed many in its time. The reflections in the globe are like this. Reflecting but also consuming, creating a new world inside, and upon it. Its like an entire world lives inside, and the globe moves and breathes with it.
It is a map. It traces the paths that the river takes. “If you are ever lost in Whanganui, just go to the river and start again”. The river gives direction. But the river doesn’t care about you or me. The river goes where it wants to go. The river swallows whatever it wants. The paddleboats that chug up and down the river once sat consumed at the bottom of the river. People brought them back up. Fixed them back up. Made them important. People give the river life. People make this sculpture move and transform. He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata.
The ball didn’t move
A ball sits on the river bank. It is a special ball, shiny, mirrored. Its importance indicated by the immense size of it, but set in the landscape the importance is lost as people go about their days barely glancing sideways at it. The only acknowledgment of the ball is the change in paths people take as they avoid crashing into it. It looks like it could roll away but its base is held fast to the ground. Though the people don’t acknowledge the ball, it acknowledges them. It captures their images in its surface.
A small girl in a floral dress walks towards the ball. She has noticed it. She stares at herself in the ball. Maybe she has noticed herself and not the ball. She’s pleased with what she sees and looks around her to see if anyone else has seen the magic. She sees me staring at her and a smile splits her face, she giggles and runs around the ball. She hits the ball from the other side “gung gyung gydung” it goes. It is hollow, despite all that is contained in its reflection.
Another child notices the ball. He hits it “dyong dong blong” it goes. He loses interest.
A man, his dad, and his small girl appear in the surface. “Look for the skinny bit. That’s the start. It starts at two rivers.” He is pointing out the split that runs around the ball. Its deep, and rough. Not shiny and reflective like the rest of the ball. It moves unevenly with small wriggly snakes moving out from it. “It takes about two days to the rapids, that’s quite easy, the next part takes three days” as he describes the importance, and skill that he possesses in navigating the river and that this line represents, he also describes the importance of the river, and the significance of this ball. “You paddle, paddle paddle”, listening to him I’m not sure who he is describing this to.
Five young kids of varying ages turn up. They all inspect the surface. “Look, your face,” onesays. “Look Lily, who’s that?” another questions before they each hit the ball.
A mother wanders around trying to see her little daughter on the other side “boo, I found you” she says casually, “hold hands” she says leading the girl away. The girl looks back at the ball as she becomes smaller and smaller in its surface.