The Road Home“She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr’d;
And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
Dissolv’d, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries.”

(Keats, Lamia)

Jentel Foundation
August 11

Thought I would drop one last line before my long hiatus has passed.  My paints and materials have already begun their return journey, in no time I will be back at home.

The day is cool and autumnal and suggests the ending of things. The mosquitoes have had their fill of me – today especially as the air is so still.  And as I am writing they sit unnoticed on my knee until their skin becomes translucent with a growing bauble of red. Not that they will get very far with their bounty of mine, for no sooner noticed then bauble and bug are imbedded slap into the fabric of my trousers.

I have seen innumerable deer – white tail and mule, two turkeys, a pair of red tailed hawks – western variety with wings tipped in black, vultures, shooting stars, a family of loons, one mink, one eagle, no skunks (thankfully) though some skunk smelt, innumerable songbirds, a dozen or so mice, voles and similar furries – some running about and some curtailed by Greykitty, many insects, many butterflies and an onslaught of grasshoppers (even a few hopping across the kitchen floor) which is soon to be quelled by the evil looking bag of grasshopper meal in the garage.  When I see them walking on the house or splashing out of grass in front of my feet – I say ‘Run away! Run away grasshoppery! Don’t eat anything that doesn’t look like grass!’  But they either flee from me or stare back mutely with their hard opaque eyes.

Of snakes I have lost track, their number unknown I have at least sorted them into species – scientific or imagined. There are grey dust snakes, brown green garter snakes, diamond backed bull snakes that mimic the seething rattle snakes, and red tongued red go-faster striped harlequin snakes that curl into fierce knots when overtaken in the cool twilight, while on a hot day retreat whip-fast as quicksilver on the grass.

The thin slips of the greys greens and reds are lithe and familiar. But the rattlers and their mimics perform strange undulations – as if their skins were of patterned silk draped loosely over their bones. They shift and resettle in interference to the movement of air, the pull of gravity, and the bare muscle beneath. Each serpent is an arm, long and elegant, soft and sinewy, gesturing midair – its flex and fall orchestrating or elaborating some unknown narrative.

Beneath the surface, the snake’s silver mail is hooked to a thousand thin threads tensing and releasing its body into infinite arrangements of form. The flesh draped across the spine with its twinge of life beneath implies a second skin rippling below the first.

Early yesterday morning I came across a bull snake on the bridge.  A Lamia locked between forms – she twisted into a continually retreating moebius.  A bejeweled nymph just about to slip her skin when suddenly the two were splint together under the tire of a passing car.  Now the two forms linked, the fair flesh in locked and the useless writhing growing gradually, imperceptibly slower until the soul unsheathes and the twin skins still.

Lament | 2008 | Travel | Tags: | Comments (0)

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