top of page

Frances-Ann Norton

Ale jug 1600s Manchester Gallery

The girl with no hands stands in the Moonlight.

Decapitated Arms tied behind her.

She is standing in the darkened orchard, eating a golden pear with her mouth.

In her skirts is a brown salt-glazed vessel, a jug.

It has the face of a bearded man scratched into the surface.

It holds strong black beer, and is stoppered with a cork.

Pottery of the past, glazed in the vitreous glass of burnt trees.

She Burns too.





Hanging like a kipper

We are here on this mountain, in a moment we will be on zip wires, flying.

I open my eyes, and I will keep them open no matter what.

Under my body zooms rocks, boulders, slate,

a landscape of slag, post industrial mine-scape, a moonscape of a lunar desolation.

Wrapped and hanging like a kipper I am suspended, slippery and tailless out of water.

Hanging by my lungs, over the precipice of craggy bleakness.

One, two, three, let go…

And we fly.

Catapulted down from the heights. My post-treatment body propelled down this 222 metre drop.

Zipping along at speeds of 20, 60, 80, 100 miles per hour.

My face Blancmanges in the G-Force.

Unexpectedly, unconsciously, I have something important to say to myself in this moment.

Loudly repeating it to the trees and the water and the rock I shout and cry… ‘F*** you cancer’.

I marvel at my own audacity as I pass over turquoise Lake and verdant forest

and jerk to a braked stop.

Reaching for solid ground with my toes like a ballet dancer.

I am changed, new, ready to begin again.


Niagara in the 90s

Niagara Falls in December.

The nineties have just begun like a new love affair.

Niagara Falls in deep love of crashing foam.

A woman stands in the road, by the falls, in a yellow trench coat, headscarf and red lipstick.

She waits at the top for her photo to be taken.

“Pose like Marilyn” the photographer says.

But like the old black and white movie,

there are no colours, everything is blank faced, locked up.

Frozen solid.

Danger zone.

The petrified falls, and thickly iced walk-ways are a hazard. Impassable.

Like this fake marriage. Why does she persist in this sham?

Standing on the edge of the Falls. High Place Phenomenon is in full force.

Like falling off the Humber bridge or down a deep nautilus spiral stairwell,

or the Brink of Horseshoe Falls.

Falling would be so easy on this treacherous day. Freefall.

Dissolving into the sublime landscape. Evanescing into the tossing waves.

Just for a moment. Just to see what it feels like.

Counterfeit marriage. She has hit her emotional rock-bottom

and it is full of grit and hard painfulness.

The video rolls on, the spray, and the deep curve of the lip of the Falls viewed from Goat Island.

I think she is frozen like the Falls themselves.

Immobile with horror of what she has convinced herself into.

If only she could go down, under the falls and draw the curtain of water around herself.

Maybe then she would feel safe and untroubled.

Then she would know the secret hidden in the cave there

and she would understand the meaning of the light through the water.

The symbolism of the ice, the nuance of the bitter frozen storm.

The leaden sky, the bloodless relationship, the years of neglect and disorder.

The loneliness and heart break.

Now in this place she comprehends it all.

This relationship is in an eternity of free fall, Sartre’s vertigo of possibility.

Looking in the reflected blade of a knife.

Holding a looking glass up to the coercive abuse, sanctions and her own servitude.

Nearby is a small stone cabin, blank windows, shabby and disagreeable.

Barred against the storm.

How she wishes to disappear,

to melt into the icy drop, and rise up again out of the ice and the water.

Absolved like a water-colour in the rain, atomised into cloud.


bottom of page