(Photos were taken by me mum, Jode)
A lapse in the torrent, and he is a blur before me, blank in the vacant street. I recede deeper into the sliding grey shadows that bleed down from the eaves.
Bullets of mercury rain ricochet upon the fissured sidewalk.
Stooped beneath that drooping, dripping checked fedora, he is hazy-still.
Looming before me like a condor.
His unseen eyes gawp into me from the drear, and there is a flitting moment of strange Recognition- as the sun struggles to dissolve the steel-mesh above.
Then comes the drowning deluge, and he glides on, scrambling after the Darkness, leaving splinters of misty rainbow in his tracks.
“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.”
(Saga captured whilst out kitten-walking amongst a sea of squirrels)
P.S. More of the model, Fyodor Kitten, in Sir’s lovely and charming blog post here: The Kitten That Rescued Himself)
Many jubilant cheers,
To roam the silken sky
With the sound of Death
Shadow of your splayed soul
Spilled and spread like blood
In the bleached, rippled sands
And so in a splash of Amber Glow
Your Twilight arrived too soon-
The last Flare of afternoon
I remember a winter’s day, long ago. My mum and I had completely finished our hearth project, with its peachy-tan grout and smooth-textured, ash grey tiles. Buddha, the large, black cat with marble green eyes, instantly sprawled on those cool tiles before a freshly-built, impassioned, late-morning fire of orange ludic flame.
As early darkness swathed the little room, shadows began to swim across the pale walls and stream along the textured ceiling.
A little copper pot with patterned slats carved in its raised lid, bubbled and hummed gently atop the coal-black, wood-burning stove. Mesmerizing plumes of pale steam crawled through the air and dissipated over us.
There was charcoal on my hands.
Wee sparrows and chickadees floated just outside the window. They underwent a final prance in the frigid air and suddenly vanished- to roost for the night in the quiet forest just beyond our little abode on the hill.
We painted together, that day, as evening descended.
Snow was flitting in coy wisps outside and an ardent wind was whirling around, sculpting sharp-edged snow statues in the yard.
Cats pranced about us as we painted on the floor. The wily felines attempted to surreptitiously dip their paws in the white and the blue, for snow and sky; the slate grey for shadow; and the hint of smoky evergreen for glisks of spruce.
The tuxedo cat, Katey Blue, managed to succeed, her white socked foot with the little black spot, coated in vibrant red, for cardinals. She deposited wee red paw-prints on the great slab of wood we were painting, quickly covered by an evening sky filled with tortuous flakes of snow, creating a pinch of flowing purple.
We finished our acrylic mural, Kate smiling as she left more prints on the floor that were quickly mopped up, the house reverberating with our chiming laughter and Kate’s haughty feline chortles.
We carried our collaborative work out back onto the snow-swathed deck to spray it with an acrid-smelling sealant. Buddha escaped onto the snow-clad surface, gliding and sliding like a child, and proceeded to make snow-balls with his giant, furry black paws, batting his creations up into the air playfully in a flurry of snow.
When we had completed our task, we opened the sliding door to recede back into the warmth of the house. The giant cat bolted back inside beneath our feet as we stumbled along and instantly flobbed before the fire in a serene and palpable peace- as if he had never left.
We continued toward the front door with our mural and soon were out in the gelid snow-scene once more, Kate looking on, with the air of a feline prophet, lime-green eyes gleaming through the glass of the side-window.
We set the mural of four gruntled, spritely carolers out front, before the silent white flowerbed cast in blue shade, illuminated in the beam of a spotlight, where flickering flakes of snow could be seen cursitating and swirling swiftly in the night.
Goodnight Greetings from the fire-side,
December. The Sea has cooled, a bit. The sand feels like chilled velvet ‘neath my stumbling toes. Rubigenous seawrack trickles in. The seethe crackles and I suddenly catch a wee glisk of my delitescent Self abiding there in the reflection on the glass sand. It is the meek, quiet one within, the one that harbours all the pain and grief I have ever known.
An intangible being created long ago, and like a gentle chum, has ever-remained. It is there when I go sprawling, overturned, writhing in the spitting sand, rabid wind flinging shards of broken sea glass and shattered scallop shells into my eyes. It flits in and swallows every splinter of chaos, calmly, silently, so I may clamber back to my feet and stagger on. And then, I am reminded, Chaos is a Choice.
This service performed without complaint, little shamrock-infused Soul. Nothing spoken, lurking reticent and Daphnean- alone, without yearning. But I can feel it, ever-present, and am zapped with its vital energy- how can something dormant feel so ardently alive? Is this where Passion is derived? Attitude and Perception? Is this what converts Grief into Peace? Agony into Understanding? Despair into Art?
I amble on, in Memory, gazing through the Abstract: the hum of the fluorescent lights hovering over an infinite hallway; the sharp light polished on the gossamer surface of a muddy puddle; the buzz of a drill in the background, staring up at the pocks in the grey ceiling, tracing constellations of galloping stallions and peculiar faces; and the keening sound of the groaning flowers as they die on the frozen prairie, brushed by the aching wind-
Abstract memory has a way about it, washing things in a thrilling,
pensive kind of melancholy. Even the hideous and the terrifying can become
beautiful. The fracid and sulfuric scent of Death, black-red, sticky on the
sheets, is an oil-painting-flashback, a sad observation. Her vitative laugh, unique and impossible to replicate, is no cultellated recollection, but evokes joy recalling having known such a gorgeous Soul.
There is damage, but no distortion, feeling pain, but no torment; stumbling crippled, but not suffering. The wounded and mangled inner being that smiles coyly through the detritus of childhood abuse, of loss, and pain- I see it in the flicker of a blue shadow, the crunch of a dead leaf, and I know, I can feel it all, euphorically.
It provides Peace. It reveals fragile humanity, even in those others have named Monsters. Understanding comes, fear being vanquished. Is it the breath of Forgiveness? How could it be, if I first do not feel wronged? Compassion and Love, the Beast with Gentle Eyes?
I wander on into the now dark, December night, Sea a distant hum behind me. Christmas lights and stars illuminate the way. I think about my brother, his addiction, our differences. I wonder if he has a hidden Self within to absorb the blows. I have seen him staggering in obscurity- searching for Beauty and relief in drugs, self-esteem in crime, atonement in masochism. I see him for what he is- a beautiful human being, worthy of forgiving himself. Aye, I think of him, as I ooze along, deeper and deeper into the lovely December night.
Al Green, Beach, Black and White, Blunder, Carpe Diem, Clumsy, Falling, Florida, Frank Sinatra, Humour, Hurricane Sandy, Inspiration, James Dean, Jocularity, Laughter, Misadventure, Nature, Nina Simone, Ocean, Pablo Neruda, Photography, Silly, Story, Writing
It had been an animated and tempestuous day. My brooding attire seemed to match the weather, jeans soaked to the knee, suit-vest fluttering in the grave wind, the sky above an infinite blanket of dreary blue cloud. We were on our way home and I had receded into happy brooding, the wild weather so fitting for it. And then it happened.
The sun suddenly dissolved through, and the cloud cover began to disperse into a fantastic mackerel sky. Radiant gold spilled out and illuminated the soggy city. Everything glittered. Already near the beach, we hurried along toward the ocean, keen on one last photo-shoot.
After parking, I catapulted from the car. Sir sort of loitered behind. I was soon hoofing along through the dank and rippled sands toward the seethe. The sky was aflame. Patches of cloud beamed a rose and orange sherbet. The waters were cast in a lambent champagne pink. Everything was glorious.
A great oooing and ahhing crowd had amassed behind me, clustered on the boardwalk. It seemed a mutual song was playing amongst them- Nina Simone’s version of “Feeling Good” perhaps. I found myself in the throes of a wee jig, myself, to that fabulous tune. The creamy moon that had vanished in the clouds was beginning to crown at the top, and cast lovely splinters of silver light onto the surf.
And then it happened. A wee little line of water began to wheeze toward me. I noticed it, but was snapping photos, and was half-deciding to let it swath my already dank track shoes. Yet, as the water slipped closer, I found I was also in motion. My body was moving back to escape the water, but my feet hesitated and stayed put. And so the center-of-balance was yanked out of place. Gravity languidly began to tug at my spine. I realised taking a tumble in the water was not extremely healthy for a camera, so I attempted to flail. Flailing, in theory, can help regain balance. I was unsuccessful, however, and discovered I was ever so slowly falling just like a great, cumbersome fir being felled by a smiling, spritely little beaver. Eventually, I landed on my back, completely flattened. The little coy dribble of water had expanded from one inch to seven inches, and managed to completely sluice my entire body, from toe to nose, and even crawled all the way up my erect arm dramatically holding the camera above the onslaught.
This did not do a thing to my jubilant spirits, other than elevate them. I leaped up as the water quickly receded and I was back upon a glass surface of shimmering sand. I found myself doing another wee jig as I suddenly became conscious of a rather eerie wheezing sound. I turned. It was my audience, er, I mean, the sunset-gazing crowd. A great long gasp had erupted from them in elongated synchrony. All eyes were widely agog, mouths ajar.
It was a strange moment; it was as if Babe Ruth had swaggered up to the bedrabbled plate, and missed the first two pitches to build tension, but on the third pitch, he points and grins, swings, and then promptly falls down, as the ball tumbles somewhere behind him. The crowd’s reaction I imagine would have been very similar indeed.
This pained me. I never like to see an audience, crowd rather, swathed in sorrow. I began to plod along through the dimpled sands toward the stairs. Sir joined me stunned with few words. I noticed that I was in fits of laugher, a bit of an uvid camera poised in my right hand. I could hear voices now.
“His camera!” a woman bugled.
“Oooohhhh my GAWD! He’s gonna be so mad about his camera! I bet it’s totally ruined!” a young lass squealed.
He’s gonna be so mad?
“Yep, his camera is definitely shot,” said an older gentleman with conviction.
(An Aside: I could not help but notice all the male pronouns. It is true, I do slightly resemble James Dean, but still, I think it’s rather obvious I’m still a lass…oh right… I understand. Only a bloke would be so clumsy, eh? Well, I’ll have you know I’m the clumsiest lummox I know, and proud of it. And I am entirely lassie. HMPH!)
Well, I danced up the stairs, Sir following behind, and then soon vanishing to the car. I lingered a moment on the boardwalk, grinning amongst the luctual crowd. The song “Feeling Good” had definitely ceased, and was replaced with Al Green’s “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”. Or rather, “How Can You Mend a Broken Camera?”
I was wringing out the edges of my suit-vest, smiling to myself recollecting how I had purposely worn all cotton today, just in case…something damp and soggy was in store. Peculiar how one can sense these things, sometimes. I believe I was even laughing out loud when one kindly woman bravely stepped forward and spoke for all the haggard and grief-stricken onlookers, “I just wanted to say, I’m soooooo sorry about your camera. You must be devastated. It has to be ruined.”
I noticed her eyes were glistening. (My goodness…don’t tell me that is the shimmer of tears…great scott! What a serious lot this is!)
In my usual annoying custom, I chimed at her in a bit of an Irish brogue accompanied with a series of animated hops, “Oh nooooo lassie!! No fretting, no worrying yer heart out, there now! ‘Tis fine, I say, absolutely grand! This ol’ camera here will be just fine, indeed!”
It is true, the camera was definitely in a bit of a drizzly condition. But blast, I was determined to cheer this crowd that had clearly missed out on one grand chance for a chortle. I mean, you observe a squirrely lass take a spill after a great onslaught of a few inches of gentle water, and your first reaction is sorrow?! WHAT?! If it were a poor little girl pushed over by some picaresque and nefarious bully, I would understand, but come now! Well, I thought it was funny, and I was not going to suppress that.
I proceeded to chortle, immensely.
“So…” the lady began again, “your camera is going to be all right?”
“She’ll pull through!” I boomed.
A faintly, friable smile began to tremble upon her lips, “Oh, that’s wonderful!”
“Aye, arg, fabulous! Haw, haw, and how ridiculous that was, eh? Just think, of all the times I should have fallen, it had to happen when I least expected it. Such is life, eh?! I was wading IN Sandy’s surf, earlier today, wind roaring in my ears. No hint of gravity to take me down. After that, I decided to scrabble along some slimy rocks as torrents of water continuously slammed them. Not a slip. So, then I clambered right up a very slippery, dead mangrove tree that rocked violently right over the water, gust of hurricane winds slamming against me as I snapped away with the ol’ camera. No hint of slopping into the drink below. I even became grossly entangled in some ghastly thorny vine, and all the Fates should have dictated that I go tumbling right down the hill and into the brackish waters slapping the shore, but NO I managed to free myself unscathed! Even when I went skipping onto the world’s ricketiest, most water-slicked dock, sloshing in the water like a bath-toy, not a bit of it, not even the tiniest threat of falling. Then I come beetling over here, wander onto this seemingly tranquil and non-threatening beach, and I find myself, well, we found ourselves, rather, if you count briny camera here, completely flattened by a little trickle of harmless bubble-bath. Such moments, AYE they make me adore life indeed! TOO funny!!” I exclaimed.
Well, that did it. I noticed, at last, the lugubrious tone of the great, grieving crowd was ebbing away at last. Smiles began to creep out. Still in shock, a bit, but beginning to appreciate the humour, I could tell.
“Oh I hope someone got that on film!” I guffawed as I began to depart from my friends.
“Oh yeah I did,” I thought I heard someone mumble.
Yes, I left the crowd with a different tune, now. Frank Sinatra’s version of “That’s Life” was blasting away as we pulled out of the parking-lot and receded into the darkling antitwilight, on our way home.
A word to future onlookers- always laugh before you think. What a crime to take up worry when one could be laughing.
Mirth is important, aye! As our Pablo Neruda would likely say right now, possibly whilst puffing a wee stogie, a bit of a ludic smile playing at the edges of his lips ‘neath that pencil mustache (I think he had a pencil mustache…), “Laughter is the language of the Soul!”
Carpe Diem, and cheers,
Iodine sun seeps through the gauze of sulfuric cloud, atmosphere smothered as sunset swims on still pools of flaming auburn. Dead leaves swirl at the surface. Staggering, spilling, fisticuffing with the twisting branches that grasp and clutch, I toss into the prickly, stinging copse of thorns and splinters. There, at last, I find stillness, inhaling the heady scent of decay, visage buried in debris, listening to the writhing of beetles and centipedes beneath.
As a species decants into the Night, there may linger a faded imprint, but Nature utilizes and swiftly forgets her creatures lost- she knows no mourning as a comet smears the evening sky, unseen, and a last breath escapes with a silent wheeze.