I started drawing the forest again a couple nights ago – and today, after cleaning off the walls of my studio space, I began looking back at some of the forest writing that I did during my mfa… During that time, I had chosen to focus on one of Ovid’s metamorphosis myths – that of Actaeon and Artemis. What I also found was my rewritten account of the moment of Daphne’s transformation into a laurel tree in a different metamorphosis myth. This story has always fascinated me – but it could really be connected to my obsession with Bernini’s sculpture of Daphne and Apollo when I was in Rome. My interest in this is very much the moment of metamorphosis – the physical transformation of when her skin must have turned to hard bark underneath Apollo’s hand. I wonder how I can explore this path…. Anyways, below is what I wrote in 2014 – Daphne’s metamorphosis (from her perspective):
It was fear that struck me. I ran, through the trees, seeking darkness and escape among them. The earth under my feet was cool and damp, the shade of the woods a welcome labyrinth of protection. The blinding light, however, continued to follow me. It raced towards me at an incomprehensible speed. The more quickly I moved across the moss and fern-covered ground, my feet feeling their way on the familiar tracks of land, the more swiftly the golden light was at my heels. The trees watched, writhed even, as he passed. The golden god was spurned to chase me more quickly. Our path through the dense growth was erratic. My desperation enveloped me while the strength of his love gave his feet more speed. I was driven onwards by fear, stricken by the leaden arrow. My own shadow, cast by his light, wavered and tumbled. It was thrown against trunks, across puddles. I followed it in desperation. But the shadow grew larger in size. Oh to be engulfed into the earth, swallowed up, transformed so this face and body of mine are no longer what he wants. As though the earth had heard my desire, my feet slowed. The shadow grew larger and larger. My legs became heavy and still. My arms, outstretched in a desperate grasp towards escape, began to harden and my skin grew stiff. I drew my last breath as the arms of Apollo encircled me. My fingers extended towards the sky, long and irregular, leaves sprouting. My feet rooted into the ground, as my body was drawn simultaneously upwards and downwards into the earth, accepting me, transforming me. My eyes closed to darkness.