Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Hills

The early morning air is crystal clear. Overhead the sky is stretched smooth, a cloudless robin’s egg blue. Underfoot the earth is a patchwork of dirt and wild grass; in some places it is soft and springy like short green shag carpet, in other places it is long and brittle like tufts of wily yellow hair. Little wild flowers poke up here and there; dainty white blossoms no bigger than a pinky finger nail speckle the green grass, tall gangly sunflowers thrive near the yellow grass and occasionally jut from patches of parched dust. With sunny yellow petals and centers the color of freshly ground coffee, they flaunt their resilience and the freedom it grants them by growing almost anywhere, even among the clusters of slate boulders that build the hillside.
Upon the hills crest, near the chaotic configurations of stones, a ram grazes on the tender blades of green that have managed to thrust up among the rocks. Its hair hangs like a silver drape obscuring its short stout legs. With horns spiraling low and near its head, everything about its physique seems to pull it closer to the earth.
Brief valleys separate this hill from its siblings. The colors of these mammoth mounds leap forth with startling vividness. The clay top soil of one is a deep warm red, almost too ruddy to be believable. Its surface is littered with the charred remains of burnt oaks and chaparral. They stand out like black runes etched upon the red background. It is almost as if they could be read, their shapes and configurations seem wrought with a hidden meaning which seeks to burst forth. The right eyes could divine their secret message.
Similarly, another hill, mostly swathed in the green of grass, is ornamented by winding dirt paths and mounds. At a glance these seem to be Neolithic glyphs, painstakingly carved out upon the hills face. A second look suggest that they are but roads, and yet a third will seem to affirm that they are yet both, as if roads and the signs of common human habitation have been carefully traced directly on top of something older, deeper, and subtler. They form shapes riddled with mythological richness.
The noises of small birds can be heard coming from the underbrush; the rustle of leaves as a limb bows ever so slightly under the small feathered body that has just lighted upon it, an almost insect like trilling punctuated by a chirp. Now and then they can be glimpsed, a blur of movement that leaves an empty branch quivering, or a yellow and black head, slightly cocked so that beady eyes may glisten inquisitively from behind a thicket of waxy green leaves.
Butterflies disturb the stillness of the air with the gentle flittering of paper thin wings. As a population, they are predominately bluebell blue, but occasionally a painted lady passes through, orange wings palpitating through the ethers, looking for all the world like a beating heart floating adrift in an invisible sea. Those of the blue variety congregate sociably upon the clusters of wild flowers. A well trained ear might be able make out the whispering of their wings and glean some significance. Their dance through the sky, their configurations upon the flora may be read like the tea leaves at the bottom of a bone china cup. The context of their message shifts with each dying moment, so that in one breath it is profound and in the next it is vulgar.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Halfway Submerged

I am submerged to my belly in the clear blue water of a tropical sea. The water is warm, ever inviting, yet cool enough to offer refreshment from the humid air. Further out to sea, close to the horizon, the ocean is an angry, tumultuous black. The sun is absent, and the blue sky above is nearly covered in patches of bubbling gray and white clouds which are outlined in a deeper shade of black. The stillness of a tropical storm about to break is all around, pervading every sense and enveloping my skin and being with its presence. The air is still, sticky, sweet…and I stand, half in water, half in air, waiting in stillness as the looming presence of a greater force draws closer.
Below my feet is a watery floor made of countless rocks. Their culmination is a bed of speckled colors that move in an endless kaleidoscopic rearrangement within the continuous churning of eternal waves. There are small rocks mixed with others that are four times their size. At first glance, most are ordinary in shape and color, but on closer scrutiny, I see the variance in their details.
I see coral colored oval shaped rocks with black swirls, large circular stones with streaks of orange running through them. Small white ones with musical notes painted across the surface. There is a large grayish blue stone that has a small rectangular patch colored in the cubist designs of a Picasso painting. I stand, only a little ways from the shore which is made only of yellow sand. There, there are white plastic chairs that nearly cover the beach, some chairs are decorated with the red and yellow motif of the local beer. Tourists move like shadowed ants in the covered cafes that line the beach. They sip cold sodas and warm beer, they snack on chips and fried fish. There are old ladies that sit in the chairs closest to the sea, they rest with thick legs spread wide beneath their long skirts, watching the waves, quite content to sit silently and watch the stirring ocean.
Halfway submerged in water, I stand atop the rocks. The waves pull the stones up from their resting place and push them ferociously past my thighs and legs. After a short break of stillness, after all the stones have settled into their new place, another wave breaks ashore, pulling the stones out to sea again. After a short moment of newfound stillness, a wave pushes another batch of rocks past me towards the sand. I feel the pressure of their form as they brush past, but I feel neither pleasure or pain, just the simple weight of them as they tumble across my skin.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Doll Box

The building is shaped like a pyramid that never quite comes to a point. The walls slope inward and upward closing in on themselves. As high as the eye can see, covering the faces of all four walls, are the dirty plastic and porcelain visages of dolls. Some are just heads, others wear ragged dresses, sailor suits, or overalls to cover their little bodies. Some are missing an eye, from others an arm or a leg is absent, or even the hair which should adorn a head. In some cases the hair has been cut down to reveal the little round pin holes through which silky synthetic hairs once cascaded generously. Now only short outcroppings protrude like thirsty weeds from un-watered earth. They are bathed in shadows from which they peer out at each other timidly.
The smudges of dirt and dust upon their apple shaped cheeks blend inconspicuously with the general gloom. The only light to trouble the inanimate inhabitants of this space comes from a small round window positioned somewhere up high. It is dirt streaked and lets in just a touch of light, enough to make the occupants of the room visible. If the mass of dolls, with their dirtied lace petticoats and moth eaten pink bloomers could be lifted from the walls, only faded gray planks of wood would be revealed with splintered edges by their absence. The floor too is of the same wood planks looking ashen under a film of dust. This film is completely undisturbed, like a blanket of new snow, it is spread snugly over the floorboards.
In one corner, a spider is walking along, leaving behind pin prick arachnid footprints. His body is very round, his legs are not too long compared to other spiders. To the dolls he looks black, especially as positioned over the dust. To another spider he would appear to be more of a dark grayish brown.
He ambles along under an unfinished pine rocking chair. It too is subject to the powdering of dust. Its great curved sled feet rise up from the floor, the tips pointing toward a ceiling invisible in the murk.
There is no apparent doorway leading in or out. Along the wall on one side of the room a dark counter top with a few drawers juts like a fat lip from under the dangling legs of dolls. A few lengths of wire lay out across its surface, gathering ashen particles so that they have come to look fuzzy. They hang over the edge and just reach to the floor. On one corner of the counter sits a glass jar. Several bushy brushes, like those made for applying make up, cross lengths with a more petite variety, like those used for painting some fine detail. Hidden among their stems at the bottom of the jar, one blue eye rests unblinking, perhaps lost from the face of some poor citizen hanging high above.
There is a faded yellow paper laying out, also coated with the velvety dust. Upon it, faint graphite markings are approaching invisibility, now too faded to make anything of their original design out. From the outside the building looks like a chimney stack covered in shingles, all painted a robin’s egg blue. The panes crossing the round window are painted goldenrod, as is the lattice around the superfluous eaves at the building’s crest. A large black crow sits perched on the western lip of the roof, looking silently at the steely blue storm clouds as they drift out into the distance.