If I hadn’t been observing the ripples and tiny colors in the sand so intently, I would have missed this living cameo, tucked like a golden intaglio in the silica dunes roaming at my feet.
It was startling to see such an array of brightness and design – interlocking like panes of Chartres glass – so obviously alive yet so still as to give the impression that in all likelihood this fluttering illustration was dead. The blue eyes, arranged at its edges like a scallop’s, were wide awake and unblinking: an optic nerve that ran along its border, black-edged like a Victorian mourning card.
I knelt close to it, breathing lightly so as not to disturb the frosting on its wings, spun like stars frozen into the sky. It was so still and foolish – foolish to think that it could hide behind its static brilliance. It was as veiled as a sunset.
Within its off-kilter symmetry and cursive silhouette lay a history of art – Beardsley’s line, William Morris’ wallpaper, Klimt’s gold ingots; even Charles Worth’s gowns, ripe with the stirrings of Art Nouveau.
I watched the play of line and color; the rippling of pattern dancing like a silent ballet across its back. Until I saw the antennae – curling and extending like frantic grace notes, trying to make sense of its cold, unwanted surroundings.
I am not one to leave stranded jewelry unclaimed, but this I left to its recovery: a bauble that would live to decorate once more the vast and austere sky.