Safari is the Swahili word for journey. Tomorrow, my journey with Chris’s ashes continues as I fly to Kenya to spend a few days on safari with Basecamp. It’s the same camp Chris stayed at in 2012 in the Masai Mara. She adored her time there and we always planned to go together. We didn’t make it while she was alive so I’m taking some of her ashes with me to fulfill our dream.
I’ll also be taking this doll that Chris made and decorated as part of the Blank Twins art project with her collaborators, Kathy Skerritt and James Aldridge. She bound grasses and leaves picked from the Masai Mara to make the skirt and wrote on it the names of the different animals she saw there.
She also made the most extraordinary visual record of her time on safari, in a leather-bound journal which I’ll also be taking with me so I can look at it in situ. I hope it will enable me to see the landscape through her eyes as I make my first trip to Africa. The journal is very precious to me so it will be coming back to Folly Cottage when I return.
Even though I was working and couldn’t be with Chris when she went to Basecamp, it was a good time for us. There was no sign of the illness that was to strike her down the following year and we were feeling particularly loving and close. She took many photographs including one, she told me, of a lone male lion “looking for his pride.” I wrote this poem for her in response.
Out on the Masai Mara, you told me
I saw a lone male looking for his pride.
And I began to wonder about this idea
That pride lies somewhere out there,
Waiting to be found in the long grass;
That one’s pride can be lost or found;
That one must look for it in another.
It puzzled me for quite a long time –
Until I thought of you lying beside me
And how you turn your head to look,
How you burnish me with your gaze
Until I become the mate you deserve.
Then I understood the lion’s search
And how the lioness makes him king
For she is his pride – as you are mine.