Birds on a Salt Wind was a collaboration between a group of artists – Detta Howe, choreographer & dancer, Katy Lown and Kathy Young, actors, Ken Parry, designer, Jay Young, videomaker, Gary Hickey, composer, and Phelim Rowland. writer. writer.
It’s the story of a captain’s daughter, Lucy, who is befriended by a sailor’s wife in Portsmouth, and the way in which the friendship changes both of them.
“..sophisticated writing.” The News, Portsmouth
far out in the gathering darkness of the North Atlantica white bird floats on streams of Arctic wind, turns on a wingtip above the tundra of waves and shattered ice; beneath sees.....ships, small ships scattered across the curve of earth,their sails catching the last cold gleam of light. I see….
My baby come in a rush of water and I hung on to him in case he drowned. When they found us we was both near drowned and Johnny sailed on the tide without seeing his boy. En’t seen him since neither; every time he come home the boy’s gone down the town like kiddies do, and the last time the boy’s run off for a sailor. My Clym. Sweet boy and nothing like his dad thanks be to God. I said the navy shouldn’t have him and I lied for it did. Both gone, and me not knowing where. I sees the ships set sail, I waves to the waving men, and then there’s months and years of silence.....
I see a white bird sailing the darkness with the ocean bitter below and the stars bitter above. On board his ship, my father maps the points of light, makes notes, does algebra and rests his finger...here. And here the ships are, all of them - the Julius, the Fearless, Jean-Baptiste, North Star, Pierre.....
(Entering Lucy’s room)
There’s never news of the Pierre. It’s a forgotten ship; sails all around the world and never comes to port or finds a battle for the boys’ enjoyment....
(As she dreams herself rolling in the tide at the water’s edge and the naked boys swimming)
Far out and miles high, my gull is abroad on the wind
Above towers of cloud
High in the winds and the mists and the storms and the stars
And in his cold eyes are horizons, moonrise and darkness,
And the tumbling of waters a thousand fathoms deep..........
My sweet Lucy..........
It’s children, milk, and sun and wind and salt........
Them boys is hard, Miss
Tastes of salt, of milk and seawater, a mouthful of sweetness.
They lies on top of you
They lies on top of you
They’re deep inside
I should like that
I should like that……
And my bird
turns on a wingtip into the dark wall of storm -
he flickers for an instant
and is lost.....
Like men, the great birds follow storms and sometimes find them.