Creature Comforts

At Aylesford Priory (January 2020), I shook hands on the goal of producing a book by the end of the year. The artist’s book underway may not be the work we had in mind and it may never reach its completion, but one hopes that some of the creatures volunteering for its pages and shared here will bring comfort to others.

If you have [people] who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have [people] who will deal likewise with their fellow [people]. ~ St. Francis of Assisi

Opossum Joy I
Opossum Joy II
Praying Mantis


You were hungry weeks ago: a glimpse in the night showed this. Now you are crying in the strong morning sun and it is danger danger danger in my ears. You are scared too and I sit behind a box to wait. Go on. Go now. She’s next door. Go. When you leave, I watch Vulture’s shadow glide over your path.
Yesterday, I wondered where you were.  Today, someone tells me where your body is.  Bricks.  You died on the bricks.  At first, there are observations rather than feelings.  I move you beneath Tree, where the ants assemble in moments despite the fact that you blend in perfectly, even now. Bless you for the joy you brought.

O My child, don’t you know that love’s your natural state
Pay no mind, do not heed the words and acts of hate
For when the clouds come, you know what’s beneath their will
And when the storm ends, you and I are standing still.
Rainy Day Frog
Approximate scale: two generous raindrops
Little Dove
Ker-thunk. Something lands on top of the garbage bin. We sit quietly and blink
at each other until help arrives. You are learning to fly (and to rest) in the storm. Sometimes I wonder whether that is a significant part of why we’re all here.
The lizard family and wasps were observed slipping beneath the vehicle, but Frog inside of the trunk was a surprise. I cannot travel with you, nor wish to deprive you of your home.
O, possum. They are cruel to you. They are sleeping and cannot see you shining. You will return and snuffle at the threshold before the sun is up, bringing joy.
Mourning Dove
Working during the coolest hours means fewer encounters with the usual friends. Slug has left points of light to read. Lizard looks into a window frequently, clinging to the glass and closing his eyes as if exhausted. I think about his skin again, of how artists create illusions to reveal truths. We seem as displaced as Lizard on the glass, waiting. Wasp died yesterday.
Mockingbird returns to the threshold for two perceived reasons. When with the cicadae and new wasps, another appearance was made.
Shield Bug (and Little Friend)


I am perched on the little work ladder when the light changes at the threshold and – senses dulled by the heat and headphones – I turn to find the source of alteration. It appears to be a great white wolf. Something loosens ever so slightly around my heart as we stare into each other’s eyes.  It isn’t ours – it’s following us!  The neighbours are shouting outside, and Dog bounds after them.  Please stay.  Come back.  You were so nice.  For a moment, I am in the woods again, briefly frozen in the golden eyes of Coyote while the pack leaps and frolics around us. You know Who your Comforter Is.  

May Beetle/June Bug

Wasp Facts and More Facts

As with many of the creatures, Wasp makes repeat visits. The brush of wings: too close.  Too close for comfort?  You won’t be stung.  I think of N. Tesla, of the countless people who have deeply loved and mourned creatures.  Often, these are soft creatures.  Loyal creatures.  Adorable creatures.  When I find weakened Wasp on the floor this morning, I feel a cautious tenderness, and the reflection on Cicada returns: Shouldn’t I also rush to you were you the great wasp I thought you to be?

Great Egret
The lovely severed twig was suspended from the shrub’s exterior. Don’t disturb our nest. A pause: there seemed no harm in collecting the thing as a reference for clay leaves. Wasp soon entered the workspace and, hovering briefly in my hair, sent me out to the drive in remembrance of searing childhood pain, a writhing insect body beneath a then utterly innocent bare foot. Another time, Wasp crawled into an ear and did not sting: one could only sit still until someone arrived to patiently remove it. Today’s flying inspection included the twig, which was fetched and returned to the base of the shrub. Pardon was requested until Wasp left the clay…and flew into the very place of theft.
Make me obedient.
Conscious of bare feet and the Divine in every creature, I bend to see what You show me.
Crane Fly
O Guest from the day
You have stolen a single
Brown hair from my head.
In the night you beat your wings against the work light. It was turned off in hope that you might live until morning. Your frenzy and small scale obscured your identity, gentle Cicada. It is easy to love you. Shouldn’t I also rush to you were you the great wasp I thought you to be?

“Come to the dining room. I blame YOU for this.”
What stains the space? Oh. My friend, how did you arrive indoors? How do you begin to take on the landscape above, as if your skin can see what your eyes do not? Have you been without food and water? And your rapid breathing when transported outside: is this how the Divine sees us, oft-fearful though held?