A Tree is My Lover
From a Chapbook (2021)

Format: Film, Poem, Collage
May 2021
Venue:; Impermanence Dance Company
1 min 50 (Film)

Direction, performance, edit: Aslan
Poem, collage: Chris Gylee

Commissioned by: Impermanence Dance Company
DECADE is a new Digital Gallery from Impermanence, created throughout the pandemic to celebrate the company’s tenth anniversary. Featuring 100 commissioned responses from 100 people, to articles, poems, reviews and paintings selected from modernist magazines published 100 years ago.
Aslan was invited to respond to the poem A Tree is My Lover by Narcisse Wood, first published in the THE CHAPBOOK No. 23, edited by H. Munro in May 1921. They produced the short film also titled A Tree is My Lover.

Gylee was invited to respond to the poem Roofs by Oscar Peters, published in the same chapbook from 1921. He wrote the poem Columbia 1, and produced an untitled collage, which were collected, together with the original poem, into the short zine From A Chapbook (2021).

Columbia 1 (after Roofs, by Oscar Peters)

We don’t live in those attic rooms any longer —
hot, small spaces.
The underside of the roof
sloping to such an extent
that a neck would be forever extended
heads tilted sidewards
caught in the moment between upright and reclining
a permanent, coy question.
A scrap of balcony
two tiles wide.
Pull through, legs into a crouch
cigarette in hand
façades fall away
slipping to the traffic below.
The whip of the sky
stinging the eyes.

We came down against our will —
the pull of our hearts
stretching back up the worn staircase
to lay low again on the mattress
a breath off the floor
to roll up in the dirty-warm sheets
to flow around the record player
Marion’s voice
turning languorously on itself
calling out her old blues, stupidly
to the stacks of manifestos
and chapbooks
the crisping flowers
blue and dusty
the sticky, iron breakfast-pan
waiting in a remnant of water.

We will sleep under the sky from now on —
the grass beneath us is cold
and a sycamore towers overhead in the dimming light
transforming inch by inch
into the blackest void of night
darker than the surrounding heavens
that grey and dim
but won’t ever catch the tree.
It is a dense black I could step into
a doorway into the night.
We’re low people now.
Bodies closer to the earth than they have ever been.
Clattering down the stairs
long nails on the balustrade

slipping on the polished wood
six flights down
and out
bursting from the hallway into cobbles and smoke
the door wrenched from the jamb, lying
like a body in the street.

Strange dream.

The above images include stills from A Tree is My Lover, and the collage Untitled (2021) by Chris Gylee.

DECADE is an Impermanence Dance Theatre project.

Editors: Roseanna Anderso, Joshua Ben-Tovim, Alessandro Marzotto-Levy
Producer: Dan Broadbent
Contributing Producer: Jasmin Greenland
Website Design: Orlando Chasey
Research Partner: Dr. Grace Brockington

Supported by: The Paul Mellon Centre, Arts Council England, Bristol Old Vic