Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Brook

I am sitting on a small walkway between two houses. The back doors of each face me, their shiny brass knobs and square covered windows stand still, motionless.  It is a narrow five foot space of cracked cement, an old walkway covered in a tiny layer of moss. The green is thickest on the sides, creeping up from the dark moist earth like a premonition, as if to remind me that soon all of man’s ingenuity will be covered in a thicket of leaves and mushrooms. 
The cement is cool and moist, ten degrees colder than the air gently floating by me. The space is shielded from the sun directly by a set of worn, slumping wooden stairs and a tiny square landing. The staircase starts a few feet from the backdoor on my left and leads swiftly, without any meandering, to the second story, where another door, this one without a window stands closed. 
Only narrow bits of sunlight reach the short walkway between the houses, and though the space is not covered in warmth, the light is bright. 
I am sitting outside on the concrete, my legs and bottom quite chilled by the temperature of the ground.  The door to my right, three feet away, is a faded blue. There are yellow spots along the edges of the door, created by time and salt and elements with complex symbols. The wooden planks on the exterior of the house are a very pale yellow, almost white. Large strips of paint are gone, revealing a spotted gray wood battered by the ocean air.  Opposite the blue door is another house, this one with a new coat of thick beige paint and shiny veneer. 
On one side of the walkway is a running brook.  It emerges from a depressed bit of earth just below the cement, travels above ground for three feet, then disappears into the earth once again. Along the edges of the flowing water, which trickles gently over smooth stones the size of large hands, are tender stalks of green foliage. There are leaves with wide heart-shaped leaves that search upwards for the sun. Beside them are small white flowers on thin single stems sprouting from the brook. Dark colored moss verging on black grows over the sides of the rocks lapping against the water. 
Wedged into one of the green stalks is a tiny brown incense stick.  A thin stream of white-gray smoke wafts upwards, dancing like the branches of an old oak tree in constant movement- curling, jagged lines, beautiful ballerina swirls that leave the scent of amber.
The air around me is alive and full.  Cool and moist.  I breath it in deeply, inhaling thick, nutrient filled earth.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Flat Land

The land is flat, stretching on and on for miles and miles.  Going to places I cannot imagine. The earth is pale brown. Parched. It has settled on a hue where yellow, white and brown converge into a shade so lacking in green it can only produce dust. For as far as I can see, the earth is bare and mute, lacking trees, shrubs, blades of grass.
No houses, cars, buildings of any sort.  It is pure flat dusty earth.  The only signs of human life are the two lane highway and an old bus stop.
The wind is continuous, blowing gusts of super fine, dry earth up in pale sandy curtains that at times become so furious they momentarily fade the glare of the sun. 
The road is just in front of me.  A narrow strip of tar once bright black, but now dulled by creeping sandy earth, coming in not just from erosion on the sides, but also by the wind.  As it blows over the highway, a slightly darker canvas than the earth itself, I can see where the wind turns in spirals.  Mini cyclones, small dances. 
I am standing next to a bus stop.  A narrow structure made of clear plastic.  A curved roof, three walls designed to protect against rain and wind.  Its brightness has worn from the sun, a force shining down without clouds to buffer its bright light.  Pure brutal heat. 
Behind the bus stop are four dozen flower pots of various sizes.  There are some short stacks, but most of them sit on the ground.  They are empty vessels, worn and awaiting soil and water.  Some are deep and made of terracotta, others are so shallow, if it were not for the small drainage hole at the bottom they could be mistaken for salad bowls.  There are tiny pots made of blue and white porcelain, the shallow ones are glass, looking like cheap crystal candy dishes.
I am moving them one by one, taking them from the area several feet behind the bus stop and moving them closer to the road.  I am stacking them one on top of the other, creating three piles. 
The wind continues to blow, swooshing in my ears, sounding like a roaring ocean.
I am alone here.  Moving my pots into piles, waiting for a car to pass.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Indoor Pool

The enclosed pool area is delineated from the hotel lobby by a set of four French doors.  Cherry wood framed panes of glass stretch for twenty feet, giving anyone interested a view of the interior space.  The heavy doors and thick glass keep a tight seal on the warm, contained moist air and the heavy chlorinated smell that is all pervasive, air that seems more tangible and easier to grab. 
The indoor pool is enclosed on all sides.  Above it is a solid ceiling thirty feet high painted in pastel tones.  The ceiling gives way to large squares of glass that taper at a 15 degree angle towards the ground, creating the greenhouse heat and light that pervades the room.
Immediately inside the French doors is a cement walkway that is three feet wide.  It leads up to the cement lip of the pool and continues around the hard right angles on all four sides. The cement is wet and cool, an intense contrast from the humidity in the air.  Along the walkway, spaced at uneven intervals, are plastic white lawn chairs, some with gray scratches on the legs and back.  One of the chairs has a pile of three folded blue and white striped beach towels on the seat, another has a used looking towel draped over its back.
The pool is long, designed for laps and swimming caps. On one end, in the corner, are three steps.  On the other end are two metal bars and embedded steps in the underwater wall.  There are three lights on in the pool, they illuminate the painted blue sides and bottom, creating the illusion of yellowish-green water.  Steam rises from the surface, dancing, twirling gently as it disperses into the thick air of the enclosed space.
Behind the pool are two Jacuzzi. Empty, they gurgle wildly from the mighty force of their underwater jets.  Heat leaps from the roaring water, twisting violently into the cooler air it meets above the surface. White and ice-blue colored water bubbles over the smooth cement sides of the hot tubs, spreading out onto the already wet cement floor beyond its walls.
Between the two Jacuzzi is a narrow walkway that slopes upward at a 10 degree angle.  Fifteen feet long, it leads to a long narrow room with glass walls on all sides. There is a row of running machines, stair climbers, weight benches, and free weights.  Each piece of equipment is lined up, facing the side-street. A lone woman in tight lycra pants and a long red baggy t-shirt is on the stairmaster, moving at a steady rhythm as she reads a magazine spread open before her. 
Parallel to the narrower ends of the pool are two tall walls that face each other like mirrors.  At their base is a ledge of tropical plants with wide bright shiny green leaves and pungent soil.  Behind the plants, stretching five feet up is a checkerboard pattern of pink and blue tiles.  They reflect the diffused afternoon light coming through the glass ceiling.  Where the tiles end, a mural begins.  It is a beach scene painted in pastel colors.  There is a bright sun, an ocean in the distance, and three bright pink flamingoes in the foreground.  The image is mirrored on both walls.
Posted on several walls beside the pool are signs saying, “NO Diving” and “USE at your own risk.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Sacred Chamber

There is a rectangular room without the human-generated lights of man. A room with four walls and two doorways, arches really, that can lead to either the hallway or a room crowded with two computers, four desks, and three arm chairs. The lights in the hallway and the crowded room are off and they are mostly dark, the shapes of them lit only by the glowing, dancing lights of tiny flames in the rectangular room, a room alive with moving candle flames. Most of the candles are encased in a thick wall of clear glass and the white wax within glows slightly just below the dance of the flame.
There are two sizes of glass candles, one that is a little over a foot tall and the other which is half that size. The larger candles have smaller wicks and smaller flames, while the tinier candles have an inch and a half long flame which glows brightly, waving like a flag in the summer twilight. Around the room, in opposite corners and along the middle of the wall, where the carpet meets the long surface of the wall, are candles on small hand-made ceramic saucers.
The longest wall, a wall covered mostly in plate glass which faces the street outside, is covered by four thick panels of black velvet curtains that dangle unevenly a few inches from the floor. The edges of the panels are clipped together and there is tape on the two outer panels, each bit of tape brings the curtain to the wall beside it to prevent any escape of light and movement from the room into the world outside.
In one corner of the room is a non-working fireplace. The frame around the open hole of the fireplace is decorated with small square tiles depicting a country scene with ox and wagons. Below the decorative wall is a narrow flat ledge of bricks which once would have protected the floor from flying sparks of lumber. Now, it holds two large votive candles, some lit, scattered tea lights, a bright green house plant in a terra cotta pot off to one side and a book with the title, INSTRUCTIONS. The mantle above the fireplace is wood and painted with a shiny coat of white. There are six candles, two small ones and two large ones spread out over the mantle ledge as well as a handful of small white tea lights encased in thick aluminum which are interspersed among the glass-encased candles.
Above the mantle, on the smooth white wall is a square photograph mounted onto foamcore. The image is mostly blue with small bits of purple and pale pink and depicts a holy mountain with small, almost geometric shaped figures scaling the edges of the mountain. Directly below the photograph, in the center of the mantle, is a turquoise ceramic chalice. The edges and handle of the chalice are thick and there is a small, button-shaped bit of clay in the center of the chalice with a square cross on it.
The space of the room is mostly free of any furniture, no chairs or end tables, though there is a small Formica cabinet that houses several DVD players and a stereo, above which is a long, rectangular flat screen TV which is dark.
In the center of the room, on the ground, is a thin layer of foam covered by a thin pale purple cotton sheet. Above the sheet are two outstretched thin, plush blankets. One is pale green, the other is light blue. The improvised bed takes up almost the entire room. Sitting above the soft bed in a triangular-like circle are three people. A man and two women. Each has their hands on their knees, their eyes are closed and their breathing in unison. The sounds of their inhalations and exhalations are like white noise, it is the only sound other than the occasional popping of a flame.
The soft yellow glow of candlelight flickers over their skin and on the surfaces of the creamy white walls which now look gold in the firelight.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


My body is cradled in the strong nylon grip of an old hammock. The purple, blue and red material is faded from the incessant heat and mild salty air, the colors remind me of old beach towels left in the far corners of a linen closet, but the lack of rainbow brilliance is compensated in the tight weaving of the thread, an iron grip which for me, on a wooden platform fifteen feet above the sandy beach below, feels as secure as the cradle of a mother’s arms.
The ocean, no more than two hundred feet away, is calm and dark blue. Rhythmic waves less than hips height, roll in on shore, creating a calming, constant roar on an otherwise quiet beach. In the distance, I can see the silhouettes of a couple, a slim woman in a small bikini, a tanned man in long swim shorts. They are too far away to see any of their features or to hear their conversation or laughter. They walk away from me, their shapes mostly darkened as the sun creeps slowly downward in the sky. They are the only people I see, the only moving shapes besides the blue water stretched out like an open, living canvas in front of me.
A gentle warm wind sways the hammock, and my naked body within it from side to side. Above me is a thin roof which blocks out the direct rays of the sun, but does little to stop the incessant heat which rises from the bright white sand fifteen feet below. The hammock is but one in a row of fifteen which hang suspended from the wooden rooftop. Towards my right, I see the long, single row of one-room cabanas, the wooden platform that stretches the entire length, the rooftop above that shades the platform and hammocks. Each cabana is raised fifteen feet from the ground, a handmade wooden ladder extending from just outside each cabana door to the sand below. Swaying in the breeze, I cannot tell if the beach is prone to flooding or it was just built to give a clear view of the entire beach, a long cove etched between a series of two cliffs that are about a mile apart.
The other cabanas and the other worn hammocks hanging from the overhanging roof are empty. The unfilled carcasses of faded nylon sway slightly in the breeze, moving as gently as the one I rest in, a crisscross pattern etching itself into my slightly tanned white flesh.
Resting high above the sand, I can see both ends of the beach lined with old hotels and cabanas, all looking like relics from another era. Almost all of them are vacant now as the rainy season approaches. The waves roll in to shore, their roar is the only sound.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Angular Tube

It is an angular tube made of slick paneled walls brought together by plastic joints and hidden metal screws that evade detection. It is a long tunnel in the shape of a hollowed out rectangle stretching at least a hundred feet, curving ever so slightly in the middle towards a goal I cannot see. On both sides the walls are shiny gray plastic without reflection or texture. They are simple, sterile. If needed, they could be disassembled in a matter of hours.
We wait in a single-file line within the tube. I cannot see the beginning, I cannot see the end, there are bodies in each direction. Most are dressed in long-sleeved dress shirts that button to the neck. They are men of all shapes, sizes and skin-tones. They all shoulder either a black computer bag or a small black suitcase with wheels and elongated collapsible handle. We wait, each facing forward, just a few inches from the person before us.
The man in front of me taps the plastic wall with his finger impatiently. He is tall, reaching nearly seven feet. His outstretched arm, covered in a cotton pin-striped plaid design, can reach easily from one side of the corridor to the other. He rests his right palm on the wall and taps his index finger in quick agitated bursts.
The dull sound of strangers is all around, the sound of communal silence unbroken by questions or laughter. We stand, waiting, all looking forward towards the corridor’s curve into a future which cannot be seen.
Overhead are evenly spaced strips of florescent lights that glow through narrow plastic frames embedded in the ceiling. There are lights every five feet, providing the plastic tunnel with rays of yellow illumination in an otherwise dim, windowless chamber.
The black plastic floor below my feet is covered in a pattern of raised circles the size of silver dollars. Somewhere behind me a small suitcase rolls relentlessly over the plastic bumps, thunk thunk thunk thumk. The rhythm adds one more layer to the soundscape. On both sides of the ground where the walls and floor meet, stretching the length of the tube, is a foot-wide striped yellow and black plastic sticker indicating a warning of some kind.
Close by, an idling plane hums, its roar finding us through the plastic walls, its constancy unable to drown the silence of strangers.

Friday, July 15, 2011


The space is illuminated in soft yellow light bordering on orange. It comes from an unseen source. It’s cast over everything, creating the sense of a space that exists outside the extremes of day and night. It is a chamber neither lit nor dark, cloaked in a space that seems to be free from the constraints of time. The light is warm, almost embodying a feeling within its colors, a warmth that is calming and safe and full of something that can be perceived but not fully described.
The chamber is enclosed on all sides by thick rock walls made only of natural curves and a stucco-like texture. There are no clear angles or smooth surfaces, just raw rock hollowed naturally to create a near-perfect circular chamber without windows. The boundaries of the space are seamless, wall gradually drifts down, becoming earth without announcement or clear distinctions. Higher up, the walls gradually merge into ceiling, an entire space without boundaries or clear definitions or hard angles. The walls are thick, there is a mountain between me and the sky I vaguely remember.
In the center of the space is a small naturally occurring pool of water. The edges of the earth around it are moist and small green sprouts gradually give way to pure water that ripples with tints of yellow and green. Foliage is scattered through the chamber, it grows up through jagged cracks in the rock, sprouting green shrubs with long thin leaves. Some have tiny white flowers in the shape of miniature cones. In abundance by the pool, growing thick and in bunches, they display their obvious preference for moisture.
The cave is completely silent save the soft sound of slowly lapping water. I can feel the thickness of the walls, the intense isolation of the chamber.
A man is in the water. His torso appears to be floating, riding the edge between water and air. His legs are submerged, visible only as shifting pale light without clear shape. The skin of his chest and arms looks quite white, very bright in contrast to the dim light. His dark-hair-covered chest glistens with a sheen of water, leaves and small twigs are entwined in the flowing mass of his long black hair and sprinkled on his chest like the adornments of an earth god. His arms, outstretched, play with the water. His wide-spread fingers move softly along the water’s edge. He smiles as the sensation of liquid moves through him, past his long fingers.
I stand several feet from the pool, inhaling the scent of moist rocks.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mirrored Pod

The room is wide, almost shaped like a circle. It is a bit longer on one side, with long white walls that are slick and shiny and look like the kind of thick, extra-strong plastic that is used to make spaceships and other environments designed to withstand extreme temperatures and settings. The only sound is the constant hiss coming through the cooling system, which keeps the space at 68 degrees. The artificial overhead light, which is bright white and perfectly coats every inch of the room in an equal amount of light hits the walls and turns into long strips of illumination.
There are no obvious angles in the room, everything is smooth and so white and perfect it gives the appearance of sterility. There are no designated walls, just one long surface without edges, one smooth line that encompasses me without beginning or end.
A wide blanket of thin, cream-colored carpeting stretches to each edge of the space, it is perfectly clean without any stain or indication of human use. Above it are sparse pieces of white and egg-shell colored furniture. Just a few chairs, a stream-lined loveseat, a smooth table made from the same material as the wall.
There is a small toilet hidden behind a door in the smooth surface of the wall. It resembles the type of small water closet found in airplanes, though it is smaller, just a few feet tall, as though designed for other creatures with smaller limbs or the ability to contort into tiny sizes.
The floor beneath my feet vibrates softy. I can feel the movements of the train that carries me and this portable condo-pod. Everything shakes in soft friction as metal wheels meet the metal rails. Every so often the compartment jerks suddenly, harshly, and I brace myself while standing in the open space beside the narrow stairs that lead to the lower level of the condo-pod.
Along the edges of the upstairs room are many pieces of broken mirror. They line the edges of the wall. Their jagged edges are a sharp contrast to the smooth, controlled design of the room. Some pieces of the mirror are embedded into the wall itself five feet above the carpet.
I can see my reflection in each of them. My brown eyes, pale olive skin, dark hair. I see a thousand images of myself in the room and I think to myself that I must take a picture and remember this moment. It is eternal. It must not be forgotten.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Blue Closet

The chamber is small, the size of a closet that somehow, despite the constraints of white walls and ceiling, still shares the periwinkle blue light of twilight from the world outside. I am leaning lazily into the only door of the closet, holding it open easily with the weight of my body against it.
The lower half of the door is solid wood, painted white, while the upper half is like a French door, made of many panes of glass divided by a thin frame of white painted wood. My body pushes into the door, lightly, almost seductively, my entire front side completely aware of the sensation, the hard, solid mass against my flesh; the cool, constant temperature of its form.
The closet is filled with the soft blue light, a color that is as clear as it is solid, both things somehow being true. The space is empty, without even a wooden bar across the side for hangers and jackets. I stay just on the periphery, leaving the chamber free of objects, my body inside the space by only a few feet.
A pleasant breeze blows through the closet, coming in so easily it seems as though there is no roof, no walls. The ceiling appears to be blue, clear, leading to the stars.
The air moves naturally inside, softly, looking for places to caress and journey. I am aware of the cool current on my hands that press easily, lightly into the sides of the hard, wooden door. I feel the air on my chest, above the low-neckline of my white shirt. The thin skin of my chest and neck tingle with the moving force of air.
My reflection in the glass panes is one of softness, of surrender, of a woman without rush, hurry, or stress. The face reflected back is calm, with dark eyes that tell stories in soft whispers, eyes which seem to laugh in silent bliss, needing no ear for its tales. My hair, in soft windswept curls along the side of my face bounce gently with the breeze. My loose fitting long-sleeved shirt, made of lightweight muslin cloth ripples softly, so quiet it seems almost silent.
Coming from somewhere far away, I hear the sound of chimes tinkling lightly on the current of moving air.
I realize that I should write down the details of this chamber. The blue, the mood, the calm, the reflection in the glass.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Massage Room

I am in a narrow rectangular room with one closed door off to the side. The small space resembles a log cabin or sauna. The walls are all made from thick pieces of wood. They are still cherry brown and unfinished and smell faintly of the forest they came from. The long back wall and two narrow sides are without windows. They are uncluttered and alight with shadows cast by the single white candle in every corner.
The center of the room is taken up by a row of tall massage tables. They are placed one next to the other without any gap between them. They nearly fill the space. There is just a two foot periphery on every side of them. The padded tables are covered in crisp, sun-smelling white sheets that look orange in the glowing candlelight. They too, seem alive with the constant dance of flame shadows.
The front-wall is made of wood, made of the same cherry hued tree as the others in the room. It is differentiated by a series of five windows that look out onto a cemented patio.
The windows are three feet high and two feet wide. They are spaced four feet apart. Outside I can see a collection of simple metal chairs. The chairs are not facing the windows directly. They are turned to the right, as though the few dozen people sitting in them are awaiting an entertainer perpendicular to the small room.
But all the spectators are turned towards the windows, towards me. Their dark eyes, lit by the florescent overhead lighting that hangs from the ceiling of the outdoor patio and the lit street lamps outside, search through the barrier of the thin glass pane, looking for us inside.
The men in the crowd have thick, dark mustaches and wear top hats. Their suits are cleaned and pressed and gray. There are a few little girls in the crowd wearing dresses with lacy frills at the collar and hem. Despite their child-like dresses, they look just as austere as their mothers, who sit silently with pale faces that reveal no emotion or curiosity, though their heads are all turned towards the windows.
There are twelve massage tables in the room. Each of them is occupied by a young woman. Their torsos are bare and their pelvises are covered with a folded white sheet that also appears to be orange.
I am standing in the center of the room behind the massage tables wearing a sheer white camisole that only gives the illusion of a shirt, my nipples are dark and evident and poking through the fabric. I am massaging a blond woman who lays face up on the table. Her eyes are closed and I run my hands over her firm stomach, feeling her ribs just beneath the skin’s surface.
Each woman on the table is being massaged by someone. I am aware of the crowd outside sitting several dozen feet away from the windows, all of them looking for a peek into the massage room. I don’t look towards them. I am aware of the women beside me and the others on the tables, but I put all my energy into the movement of my hands. I am so focused on my hands that all external shapes fade into the walls and blend seamlessly into candlelight.

Friday, April 29, 2011


I am standing in the kitchen of a small apartment. I am leaning against the cool metal siding of a stainless steel sink embedded in a long white Formica countertop. The sink is clean and shiny, all remnants of past meals and dishes have long ago been scrubbed, dried and put in their spots behind white painted cupboards.
There is a window behind the sink. A crystal clear single-pane window that is uncluttered by curtains or shades. In perfect view is the gray cement rooftop of a tall red brick building across the street. It is so close I could jump from the window onto its sun-baked roof.
Two men sit on the cement, looking at each other, blocking the sun from their eyes with the aid of their cupped hands. Sunlight covers their legs and arms, brushing their already tanned skin. Just behind them are two wooden patio chairs which they have ignored, worn but well maintained red wood that lets off waves of glimmering heat.
Along the edges of the rooftop are red and pink geraniums in evenly spaced wide terracotta pots. The colorful petals are illuminated like stained glass, glowing in the afternoon light.
The sunlight streaming into the kitchen has taken on a pale blue color, verging on ice. The few appliances on the countertop are muted and fuzzy, seeming almost ghostly in shape and color.
To my right is a man. I can’t see his face, though I can see that his hair is dark and short, his skin is olive and tan. He wears red running shorts that reach his knees and a long white T-shirt that is baggy and slightly wrinkled. His eyes are fixed on the roof, at the two men sitting on the cement rooftop, on the one in red running shorts and a baggy white T-shirt.
Down the hallway from the kitchen is an open sliding glass door. A warm, yet slightly cool breeze blows through the open doorway. The wind plays with my hair. A black dog runs in circles on the balcony, barking excitedly in intervals to things I cannot see. The balcony is a mixture of sunlight and speckled shade. Any view from the high-rise apartment is blocked by tall, leafy trees and the thick interweaving vines that wrap around their boughs.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Small Apartment

The brilliant heat of a Duraflame log is burning in a corner fireplace, sending most of its smoke up the chimney, though the small apartment still has the distinct smell of burnt wood. A young woman is laying on her back, stretched out on the thick white carpet of the one-bedroom apartment, her head supported by a large blue plastic bag full of thin folded blankets. Her entire body is facing the fire, the soles of her feet are the closest, standing upright though tilted outwards slightly, taking in the warmth of bright yellow flames leaping towards oxygen.
Two feet from her head, to the left of her body, is a large flat-screen TV. Men in tight primary-colored spandex uniforms run back and forth across a field chasing the illusory ball of dreams. The familiar sound of sportscasters and the low, slightly dull noise from a crowd of thousands fills the small apartment. No conversation can be had over the sound of the TV and no one tries.
Beside the young woman is a large tan dog with wide, floppy ears. The dog is laying next to the girl, pressing into her slightly with warm weight. The dog’s head constantly turns upwards, looking for a hand and affection. As the fingers of the girl’s right hand twirl the dog’s pliable ear round and round, the dog closes her eyes and sinks into the sounds of the room.
Behind the young woman is a plush gray couch. A sheet is stretched across the lower half to prevent the constant attack of dog hair. A short man with thin limbs and a slightly bulging stomach is sitting on the couch, his left hand full of sugar-covered macadamia nuts. Every few seconds he raises his hand and drops a few more into his mouth. He is watching the game before him with mild interest, though he looks around the room every once in a while to see if anything has changed.
A younger man is sitting in the leather armchair beside the couch. His eyes are focused only on the TV. Every few minutes he yells out, cursing some move made by someone thousands of miles away.
Ten feet away from the couch and the fireplace is the kitchen, a small nook without walls that is drenched in overhead florescent lighting. A mother and daughter are in the kitchen. They share the same coloring, pale skin verging on pink, light hair tending towards red, though the mother has taken pains to highlight her short hair in blond streaks.
The mother is moving around the small kitchen rapidly, opening drawers, shutting drawers, turning on the faucet, pulling on the roll of paper towels, opening the oven, closing its creaking door with a muffled bang as the aroma of cooking oranges and cranberries escapes into the scent of burning wood. The mother moves rapidly, repeating the same gestures and movements in quick succession.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


She sits in her small black truck in an affluent suburban cul-de-sac. The road is somewhat narrow leading in, but at the end, where the road dead-ends in a row of shrubs, the asphalt opens wide, creating a circle where any car can turn around fluidly.
There are two spots of shade on either side of the street. Her car is parked beneath one, next to an old yellow fire hydrant and a five foot tall row of shrubs. In the other swatch of shade, an occupied mail delivery truck sits with the motor turned off, the mail-person is just barely visible below the reflection of autumn leaves on the windshield.
There are three large houses that face the cul-de-sac. They are many feet away from the street, shielded from the asphalt by long driveways and ivy and bushes. There are mature trees and shrubs that separate the houses from each other, with ample space between them for fencing and foliage.
Parallel to the cul-de-sac, just forty feet away from the houses and the nearly deserted street is a fairly busy road. Sitting on the cul-de-sac, she can hear a busy street not too far away.
She can hear the sounds of the school on the opposite side of the busy street. Children are playing, calling to each other on the large carefully tended field. Little boys scream with pleasure as a goal is made. There is a repetitive sound of green balls hitting the floor of a tennis court.
Cars pass regularly on the street behind the houses and cul-de-sac. Occasionally a truck with its powerful diesel engine winds its way through the neighborhood and passes the school.
Her car adds to the music, something is ticking mechanically, though the engine is turned off. In the trimmed bushes beside her car, hiding in the thick bed of fallen leaves, a small animal scavenges for food, crumpling leaves as it walks and scuffles the underbrush.
A gentle breeze passes through the two open windows of her truck. It is soft, sending a cool touch over her skin and rattling the long pieces of hair that hang on either side of her face. She sits in the car, her eyes closed, listening to the chorus of sounds that fill the cul-de-sac with vibration.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Strip Mall

The sun has just left the sky, leaving the faintest glow of yellow hovering close to the horizon. Twilight is all around. Feathering out from the yellow-lit hue is a pale blue which fades abruptly into deep cobalt and purple-black. Several seagulls cross the sky silhouetted against the pale blue night.

I am sitting under the thick metal awning of a short strip mall on the outskirts of a sprawling apartment complex. Squat, two-story condos and tall apartment buildings are interspersed like a twenty minute long checkers match, they stretch for blocks and blocks, creating a mini-city. To the left, several hundred feet behind the grocery store at the end of the strip mall, is an apartment building standing twenty stories tall. A few of the windows are lit from inside, though the majority of them are dark. In front of me, just beyond the parking lot, is a long two-story apartment building that vaguely references Greek architecture with its two white pillars on either side of the main front door.

There are twelve different businesses all sharing the same long florescent-lit awning. At one end is the mid-sized supermarket with a front-facing glass wall. Covering the glass wall are an assortment of neon beer signs that each vie for attention. They blare their colorful message into the night, looking for thirsty eyes and loose wallets. On the other end of the strip-mall is a lonely-singular ATM that stands unprotected against the night. A solitary bulb embedded in the awning shines down, illuminating the money machine.

Between the two anchor points are a dozen storefronts. I sit out front, at the only outdoor table drenched in the glow of an arabica bean-scented coffee shop. My white paper to-go cup of milk-drenched tea rests on the table to my left, the cup still too hot for my fingers to hold. Two men play chess at a small table directly behind me, we are separated only by a thick glass pane and a thousand other invisible walls. Next door, a brightly-lit laundromat hums with the sound of tumbling clothes and a screeching baby that takes short breaths between wails. Three young Asian guys are standing just outside the open doorway to the laundromat. They talk amongst themselves in gangsta accents, simultaneously laughing together and making fun of each other.

Closer to the market at the end is a burger place with a sporty, Hall of Fame theme. There is an ice cream parlor, a smoke shop that sends the constant perfume of nagchampa drifting out its open door, a pizza place, a kick boxing school and two other small storefronts under construction. The steady tap and boom of the construction work mingles with the insistent hum of dryers and swishing washers. Somewhere above, a jumbo jet cuts through the sky, its noisy engines rattling the metal table and the contents of my paper cup.

Beyond the storefronts and sidewalk is a small parking lot with a hundred spaces, though only a handful are occupied by silent cars. Just beyond the lot is a narrow street lined with glowing street lamps and one large silhouetted cypress stands tall and dark against the changing sky.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oak Tree

The hum of bees fills the otherwise quiet cool air. They buzz softly around the trunk of an old oak tree where their hive is nestled in a crack that was made in a long forgotten lightning storm. Roots, long and gray, reach out through the carpet of prickly golden oak leaves creating small to mid sized nooks, spaces between the roots where the leaves are thicker.
The canopy of the tree spreads wide like an umbrella and drips to nearly touch the ground so that just a thin band of horizon is viewable between the dark green leaves that hang with resolve on the living branches and the yellow and brown leaves decomposing between the rising roots. Horizon is divided between strips of pale violet sky and the shimmering rolls of grassy hillside, glossy blond after a long dry summer.
A coyote moves smoothly over the hills, ears raised high, picking its way delicately through the rippling grasses with the grace of a ballet dancer. The sweet raspy cry of a hawk pierces the muted hum of the bees and soft rustle of grass, only now and then revealing its presence above the canopy with these cries.
Lying on the bed of leaves a man and woman clutch each other, their cheeks touching. The woman rests on top of the man and he rubs her back and thighs through her jeans and yellow T-shirt, kneading the flesh underneath like dough, his broad hands and strong pale fingers moving slowly and deliberately, almost tremblingly, as if the strength being exerted is only a fraction of what is available and great restraint is required to prevent his fingers from pressing through the flesh to grip her bones.
Her face is hidden against his cheek and neck and under hair the color of old straw that spills out over the ground beside them. She is very still and both bodies rise and fall gently with their synchronized breath.
His clear blue eyes look up from under bushy black brows, gazing at the canopy stretched over them like a ceiling of shivering leaves. Small brittle leaves from the ground cling to the sleeves of his blue and white flannel. His face is smooth and pale, his lips full and bright. His head, covered in a fine layer of dark stubble, rests on a pillow of rolled jackets.
The smell of oak and earth envelopes the place like a perfume and is stirred to freshness by the cooling breeze. Warmth from the heat of the day still lingers in the ground and in the bodies of the man and woman, and on their nearby backpacks, but the breeze carries the coolness of the violet sky and the promise of dusk.
The tiny bodies of the bees can be seen now and then looping their way towards the heart of the tree or venturing away beyond its shelter.
The woman sighs so quietly that it is barely perceptible, except to the man into whose ear her warm breath is expelled at his fingers' urgent request.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Convention Hall

The large convention hall is shaped like a rectangle, though there are many banisters and stairs to divide it into multiple chambers, giving the impression of many rooms and divided spaces. The only windows and natural light come from the four sets of glass doors on the south side of the building which are spread every one hundred feet. Besides the exit doors which provide only minimal light through the tempered glass, there are the front glass double-doors and its overhead windows on the western face of the building.

Interior light mostly comes from the intensely bright white spotlights that dangle from the wooden ceiling. The light is directed downwards by large metal lampshades with a diameter of two feet.

The space has a cozy modern feel with angled beams of thick wood that jut out from the ceiling at 35 degree angles and end at the floor of thin gray carpet or ¾ of the way up the vertical beams which are spaced evenly along the sides of the hall, standing every twenty feet and providing structural support for the roof and foundation.

Twenty steps from the front glass doors is a 15-step staircase covered in blue carpet. It leads to a small annex above the main space of the convention hall. The annex has an a-frame shaped rooftop and opposite the front staircase is a maroon railing with a view of the convention hall and another set of stairs that lead directly down to the main lower floor.

The heart of the convention hall is sunk a bit deeper into the earth than the two long sections on either side of it which are elevated by four feet. The three distinct spaces are separated by metal banisters. The outer raised sections are accessible by several equally spaced 5-step staircases that lead to the middle section. There are three staircases on each side of the interior space.

Throughout the three sections are eight-foot wooden tables. Each table is uniquely decorated and covered with varying styles of table clothes. Some are black, others white, some in colorful fabric or cluttered with felt letters or plastic-wrapped artwork. There are hundreds of tables lined up one next to the other. Along the exterior the tables are set up a few feet from the wooden walls. In the center of all three chambers, the tables are aligned to create a large island or donut in the center of the space.

On every table there is some form of artwork. There are books and thin glossy comics. There are dolls, key chains, buttons and shirts available for purchase. There are hundreds of handcrafted goods, all sewn, pasted, drawn, or painted. There are small paper zines and stuffed animals made out of plaid fabric, buttons and stickers and knitted mittens and artwork in mats and wrapped in protective plastic.

Behind every table there is at least one person, though several have two or three. Some people behind the booths smile brightly and try and make eye contact with the people milling about the space. Others stare into books of their own, trying to appear disinterested and distracted. Several are in conversation with their table-mates and others engage actively with the people in front of their table, encouraging them to leaf through books or try on jewelry.

An intense hum of conversation and activity fills the space. It is like the low drone of an airplane, its decibel only detectable once it’s gone.