6×6 Week 2: Touch

Last Friday I was walking along the canal, as I often do with my dog Seamus. Just after the Portobello Bridge, there are some lovely willow trees. I watched the branches graze the surface of the water, and it looked so much like they were caressing it and the glittering sunshine.

I started to notice forms of touch I hadn’t previously thought about.

Also thought about how many people are missing the touch of friends, or family, or people they are dating but don’t live with.

Things from Ireland inspiring me this week:

  1. This song by the Pillow Queens, and the video, which was made during the first lockdown.

2. This body of photographs by Mandy O’Neill, an exhibit that I saw at the Gallery of Photography last year. I am thinking especially about the physical contact that school children have in the photos, what that kind of closeness teaches young nervous systems about risk and safety, how that proximity is so much more complicated now.

3. This poem by the Derry-born poet Colette Bryce (the current editor of Poetry Ireland Review). Maybe it was the willows that reminded me of the line “lean in the breeze like sapling trees” from this poem. I am not an overtly religious person (although I am deeply interested in and study theology), and I would not bet money on this poet’s being strictly religious. But there’s a dance between belief and unbelief and intimacy and distance that I find really moving in this poem. I could read it again and again and not grow tired of it, just as I could sit on the banks of the canal watching the willows graze the surface of the water, and it will always feel like a living moment, awaking something in me.


a.) (As before) respond to any of the three things I shared above. What does it make you think of? What does it make you feel? What does it remind you of? What does it make you want to do/ see/ be?

b.) What are other forms of touch that are not immediately obvious? The first thing that comes to mind, although, it’s a bit gory, is that there is touch happening under my skin as well as outside of it, my organs touch other organs, bones touch cartilage. What is required for touch to be touch? What are the boundaries? Make a list of different forms of touch. Begin with the obvious, if you want just to get going. Don’t judge! Just write, see what happens. If things get weird, let them get weird.

Some more help from Natalie Goldberg, by way of this author I don’t know. The advice is about “composting.”

P.S. Again, there is no pressure to share. However, if you benefit from sharing, here are some options:
a) share on social media with the #6x6_2020_ie and find each other.
b) if you want feedback from me, I am happy to do it for a small fee. Decide at the start if you would like feedback on 3 prompts for 30 Euro, or all 6 prompts for 60 Euro, payable by PayPal (you do not need an account; I can send you an invoice) and let me know at seamusfeathers2017 at gmail dot com). Send a maximum of 1000 words of your writing to seamusfeathers2017 at gmail dot com by midnight on Sundays, and I will turn it around to you (probably!) before the next prompt.

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