Tag Archives: shadows

The Splintered Target

Morning arrived like a javelin

From a dawn that coiled like muscles

Hurled down from the Olympian sun

Crouching like Helios

Behind his blazing chariot

Pulled by horses raw with fire

It pierced the shadows

And they shattered like glass

Into shards of dusky prisms

They were sliced like diamonds

Into a multi-faceted dawn

With one perfect throw

But in twelve hours the splintered target would become whole again

And the haloed god with a crown blistered with dragons

Would raise his mighty arm once more

The Varied Shadows

Sea Change

They delineate the shoreline in a waving spine, steadfast in their salty acres – these homes I can hold in my hand.  Architecture that was once submerged, they were born inside currents that pulsed turquoise and lavender, and grew behind an oceanic veil, cold and serene.   

They tumble in the boiling surf, helpless in the blind physicality whose desire originated miles out at sea where winds stir the water into madness.   It was a long journey, far from the depths where Neptune’s verdant singing embraced the watery world like the god’s muscular arms.  They were far from the light that split into a labyrinth of prisms, from shadows that bloomed at the edge of the sunken earth.  

When they were free of the ocean’s rough attentions, the glassy beach, reflecting seagulls and ships, beckoned.   There they stretch like an untended necklace, a rope to mark the extent of the ocean’s appetite.  

Their bleached, fossilized skin, made of sand and salt, was tattooed with rhythmic designs.  Patterns leapt across a map of continents and followed a cartography of rivers carved into bone.  Products of Nature’s boundless whimsy and creativity, they were the sum of her busy fingers, carving skeletons into cathedrals, sweeping stairways and twisted carousels. 

When she opened her hand, she whispered their story into each pelagic coil, then scattered them across the green and pearl-dazzled landscape of the sea.  And anyone who picked the shell up to hold it close would feel her silvery breath and hear her dreaming narration of an empire of fishes, coral grottos, drowning suns, and a world far beyond our grasp.

Shellf Life

A Tree Grows In My Apartment

It was given to me as a gift. Fragrant of the forest and Christmas, it was sprinkled with silver glitter – like a handful of stars trapped in a green, earthy sky. I was immediately taken with its symbolism, its mysterious life, its small and delicate perfection.

For weeks I kept it at work: a pretty accompaniment that countered the surrounding electricity and stress with its quiet growth and perennial tranquility. But eventually I felt it was time to bring it home. It is a chilly and dark walk home during those ending months, so I felt obligated to hold it close – this emerald hatchling unused to the provoking cold.

Once home, I placed it by the brightest window, soon noticed that it was leaning away from the light, like a spoiled child turning from a carefully prepared meal. Perhaps the sun was an insult to its shadowy past, a life nestled in the myth and darkness of the woods.

A Bed Of Roses

To add to my little tree’s alarm, I re-potted it. Its roots were balled and tangled like a fist in its old home, and I could hear it knocking to get out. But I fear it went into shock – it started to look gaunt, and began weeping tiny green needles into the brand new soil.

That was about a month ago. The tree maintains its stubborn tiny-ness, despite the somewhat breathless claims on its birth tag that it could very possibly grow to 13 feet tall. It continues to live, without doing anything as vulgar as thrive. Out of politeness, it does not flourish.

But now it’s raining; the raindrops are bouncing off the ground with a quick and liquid velocity. Perhaps my little tree will recognize this dark weather and reach towards the soft, gray air in a sudden burst of sentimentality.

Glitter

Lunacy

It is at this time of year, the final third, with the three-syllabeled months and early shadows that predict the quickening of its domain, that I feel its presence.  Like the tides that feel the pricking of silver hooks in their watery skins, I am pushed and pulled and reminded that now is the time.

During the warm months, it is a jealous, white shadow, hanging in the humid, seductive sky.  Its cold women, crescents dangling from their ears, stars melting into their hands, are content to wait.

Until now.  And the hooks in my skin tell me also that the wait is over.  The moon – call it hunter's, harvest, blood, corn, barley – has returned, its chilled ascendancy sharp and frosted in the evening sky.  It shines with a metallic light, a cloth of silver that charms the heavens so much that the nights become longer, so that the lively fabric could be enjoyed that much more.

When the equinox rides high in the sky, climbing the burnished galaxies, the harvests below emerge from the mothering earth and her erupted, buried seeds.  I can smell the flavors and colors in the hard, cold air.  I shiver with the wet, vermillion leaves, the early shadows and the piercing breezes, heavy with rain and living things.

I see an orange moon brushing darkened fields, a white moon chilling the constellations, a yellow moon that warms autumn's firmament.  Autumn carries in her arms the produce of busy populations, leaves that crackle like fire, grains that are woven into loaves of bread.  She wears bracelets and ropes of pearls, but only a single pearl rests on her brow – a symbol of her most perfect jewel.

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Taking The Fall

Yes, I certainly will – above all other seasons.

Yesterday was the first day of Fall, and I love that my time has finally arrived.

I love the cold, still air – no longer thick with humidity, smog and the cries of insects.

I love the way a bird call will sound, distant and solitary, a lone holdout against its migrating bretheren.

I love the dry leaves caught in cars' windshields, like invitations from Nature to celebrate her party of harvests and rustling fields.

I love seeing the gray clouds gather in the distance, like relatives approaching whom I haven't seen in a year.

I love Autumn sunsets, passionate and violent: black clouds warmed by a furnace in a sky, turning red and gold. 

I love the long, early shadows stretching across the sidewalk, making a tree's dark reflections on its concrete surface extend forever.

I love walking at night, tilting my head up, and blowing my warm breath against the sky:  the stars wink through as if my breath was a swirling cloud.

I love seeing the dark colors and heavy, complex fabrics in shop windows.

I love coming home from work, barely giving myself time to kick off my shows, and starting to cook Thanksgiving dinner.

Call it Fall, call it Autumn, call it a Solstice – I call it chilly, golden and full of promises that have been fullfilled over and over again.

Yes, I'll take it.

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Making A Fe-Line To The Past

The world is full of ideal pairings.  Lord Peter Wimsey and Mervyn Bunter.  Nick and Nora Charles.  Sunsets and silhouettes.  Sage and Gold.  Pearls and onyx.  Moon And Sixpence.  Cheese and more cheese.  I had imagined that I could think of them all.

However, years, ago, I was in a bookstore in London – and if anything good is going to occur to you, the odds are that it will happen in a bookstore.  And if you are in a bookstore in London, well, those odds are overwhelming.  Something was bound to happen.

Wel, what happened was that I came upon THE ideal pairing.  So sublime, so perfect, that just thinking of it makes me imagine a world where the sun is perpetually setting, where the rays are always lengthy and golden, where the landscape is noble and the air is purring. 

Castle Cats
Richard Surman

Castles.  Cats.  One rules the horizon, the other rules the home.

So what attracts a compact body of fur to a vast expanse of stone?

Well, surely it is the people who are in residence, their generous hearts laying down the drawbridge for pink-padded paws to cross.  The kitchens ae warm, the chairs are plush and thickly upholstered, huge stone fireplaces flare in a medieval blaze:  what cat wouldn't feel worthy, and right, in surroundings like these?  And as castles are usually embraced by towns, and as towns are inevitably warmed by public houses – well, a cat might feel inclined to roam a little, too.  A look of yearing in green or amber eyes, a plaintive meow:  and a waitress or pubman might relent and part with a wedge of kidney pie, a slice of roast beef, a sausage or two.  Perhaps for the evening the cat will curl in a corner and sleep, cozy in its homely nest – its ears full of the clinking of glasses, the scent of earthy, simple cooking swirling about its nostrils.

But in the morning the cats will return to their towering, granite homes.  Why?  Breakfast, surely.  But could there be a more subtle influence at work?

The premise of the book is delightful:  20 chapters – a few pages each – of castles and their whiskered tenants.  Each entry is full of photos:  dark and evocative (Smudge crouches, herald-like, on the rocks of St. Michael's Mount), bright and comfortable (Ginger meows in the sun at Bunratty Castle).  With castles on one hand, and cats on the other, this book is one strong and marvelous handclasp.

Through the pages cats are trotting down steps that are smooth and rounded with centuries of human steps, shod in colored fabric, leather or chain mail.  What draws those felines there?  Do they hear those steps?  Are they following their paths?  Do they sense assignations – war – barefoot servants too?

Cats peer through battlements.  Their eyes glow in the broken spaces.  Do they feel the anxiety of a soldier, long dead, looking beyond these stone teeth, across the borders, to see approaching armies:  the Irish, the Scots, the Welsh? 

Or when they fit themselves neatly inside an arrow slit:  can they hear the winding of the crossbow?  Can they feel the arrow bite through the air?  Can they see the banners below, with their signs and symbols – held high, or grasped in the hands of corpses, shredding in the wind?

Some cats prefer the gardens, the whitewashed statuary – they sleep at the bases of balustrades, or by the feet of vases, carved with swags of concrete foilage.  Maybe they dream of the gatherings that were once held there…dresses no longer of sweeping medieval cloth, but rigid with whalebone and petticoats, decorated with Elizabethan stiffness or Rococo madness.  Perhaps their ears twitch as they listen in on distant conversations:  about executions, Armadas and revolutions.  Or they hear the thunder of hooves as horses and riders disappear into the forest for an idyll of bloody and most unfair sport.

This book shows cats of any and all description peering around corners, hiding behind gates, snug behind crenellations, walking down flagged paths…all attracted to these historical surroundings for the open-door policies of nearby kitchens, yes, but I would like to think that they also come to these castles for the sounds, voices and visions of long ago, for the inescapable life that still surrounds these places.

And that is why I'm drawn to these places, too. 

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