A fever dream without a fever, mayhaps. A long night-to bed early, early to rise-spent tossing and turning and in restless spaces between blankets and sheets and a pile of pillows meant to make me feel less alone. Cloth lovers’ arms around me, all.
The dream was winding.
This way. That way.
At first just the two of us. Then, as we walk, another. And another. Four of us approach the door of the modest apartment. Excited hushes and shushes precede us as we drawn near. A rhythmic knocking, and sparkling eye, the night paints the scene around us dark, the fire from inside the building peeps out between old insulation edging the door and through the slats of the dusty blinds. Blinds exist in a state of perpetual dustiness. The lock clicks open, the door wedges out a bit and a beam of warm light escapes. Whispered secrets pass from guide to gatekeeper and back again, and we are permitted entry. At this point, I am aware I am a visitor in a foreign land. This threshold is not a normal one, but one into a different realm where other sorts of things and people rest. I am not of this place, but am permitted on a trial basis. The room yawns before us. I try to follow my guide, but he has long legs and knows the terrain and the inhabitants. Where his casual greetings suffice, I am asked who, what, and why. Where he steps nimbly over lounging bodies and furniture, I scuttle around a labyrinth of barriers no taller than 4 feet.
When I realize I have completely lost my guide-or maybe it was him who completely lost me-I notice a witch, mostly naked and lacquered in gold and black paint. Her skin shimmers and cobwebs hang from her hat. Her long black hair tumbles in a tangled mass over her shoulders. She beckons me over with a neon green-tipped finger. I sit in an overstuffed chair beside her, suddenly aware that I am very tired. My bones sink through my flesh and come to rest gently as the cushion compresses beneath me. She leans across the chasm between the furniture, her face so close to mine I can see her pores and smell the moss in her hair. She smiles and asks how I am. I mumble-a string of consonants and vowels, a string of nonsense-she smiles knowingly and sits back in her chair, her curiosity sated. A sly smile precedes her invitation to the romp.
It is now the room comes alive. There are live bodies streaming like water in a gully. Singing, dancing, leaping, laughing through the room. They skip through the space like blood through a heart, from one hallway across a gap to the next to shuttle forward. I am swept up in them. I am swept up by them. They continue choosing to keep me. They continue abiding my bumbling, grief-addled mind.
We do not exit where we entered. Our escape is made through a cabinet in an impossibly small kitchen. We walked through night dark before arriving at the apartment; we now bound in the cold, clear light of midday. The sun pelts us-our eyes stunned and renewed. In this new place I am watchful, but do not spy my guide. The others, sparkling and tall and short and wide and thin and green and blue and silver all usher me through the streets. We dart across traffic-the drivers turning loops in the roads, our bodies small, darting birds testing our speed and agility. We listen to crowds of people in fields playing soccer with friends and walking down sidewalks conversing. We see a great museum, dead. The marble horses in front shine a plastic green reminiscent of roadside carnivals. The columns which once beckoned visitors to learn now shimmer with cheap gold plating and disco ball lights. I turn to discuss this marvel of evolution with the others.
And I wake up. The sounds of their flutes recede. Is that the fire alarm going off down the hall? The building shudders and sways. An earthquake? The air heavy. The end? It is 3 am-dear witching hour dear witching hour, but only because I went to bed at 8-and no, there are no alarms, there is no earthquake, there is no end. The ringing in my ears recedes as I grow more alert. The gentle movement of the building is wind pressing outside and my pulse pressing from within. The air becomes air again, light and clear as is best.
Today is 7 years and 1 day since my mother passed. Today I ache and can’t tell if it’s grief? The dream? Stress? Grief.
Time moves slowly. It moved even more slowly yesterday. Maybe this perception of time crawling is a sign that I need to steep in this visceral experience.
Sometimes the missing is great.
The earth sang to her, gave her missives in her bones. It cried to her, “You are more than this! You are stronger than this! You are a wild queen meant for the rivers and glens, flocks and packs!” Day after day she fought this song coursing through her. Every day she played threnodies for her own soul to drown out the song of the earth, to convince her bones that her civilized existence, while the death of her soul, was the right thing. The overpowering thing.
Her existence continued like this for years: the earth sung to her melodies of wild love and exuberant pain and for years she drowned it out as best she could.
One morning she woke to silence. Her patient lover, the earth, was no longer singing. The quiet rocked her, a void as cold as space but claustrophobic like a gathering of demeaning peers. She listened, laying still in her bed. She turned to her side and pressed her ear into her pillow, hoping the tune was quiet, muffled beneath her bed, but she heard nothing.
She crawled from her bed, to the floor, and pressed her ear to the scratchy grey carpet. Now she rested only feet from the dirt, from the soil, from the lifeblood that clotted beneath her home. Still she could hear nothing. She wept. Quietly at first, because she didn’t realize she was sad. She didn’t know how great her missing was.
As she lay there weeping the minutes ticked by. Slowly. Slowly. Slowly. But as her weeping grew to the mourning cries of widows and children of war she knew, in the back of her mind, her time was running out.
The safe world was striking up a call: pull yourself from the floor, deny that vibrant, animalistic pulse beating in your heart, for you are my child now. She slowed her tears. She took deep breaths of the air conditioned air and dug her nails into the synthetic carpet scratching her skin.
She slowly, slowly pulled herself to her knees, then to her feet. She shuffled to her closet and dressed. She pulled herself, step by step, to her bathroom and plastered her face with makeup, the war paint she donned to protect her from her own insecurities.
She was a sleeping body drawn by unnamed forces to the door. Her hand knew without her consciousness to grab her purse and keys, to lock the door behind her. She sat in her car, key in the ignition, but stopped. The soft call of domesticity increased its pitch, increased its volume, increased its demand. “Drive. Drive. Drive. Drive, my dear.” It commanded. It pleaded. It cajoled.
She clutched the key, her hand growing angry at being clenched so tightly. Her arm began to tremble and the tremble infected her shoulder, her lips, her heart.
She turned the key and backed the car into the street. She began her commute. The city song eased, sure it had won.
She entered the crowded highway, contested with others bound to the urban mother’s milk. She saw in the fume-filled highway her brethren in their own paths, in their own cars. They sat, angry, sad, empty. She saw the exit leading away from the city. Away from what she knew. Away from what she had built herself into. She flipped the sun visor down and met her own gaze, black mascara tears running down her cheeks.
She considered stopping. She thought how quickly she could end it all in a hot car on the highway. She knew the paramedics wouldn’t be able to reach her for half an hour after a call was placed. How long before her highway-bound brethren noticed her slumped in her seat?
As the cars inched she felt herself grow nearer surrender. When the traffic slowed to a stop, she told herself she would do it.
As the cars’ brake lights flared in front of her she knew. Her car slowed with the rest, now in line with an exit leading away from her goal. She put the car in park and cut the air. She began to sweat. She grew restless and angry. As the heat grew around her, an entity of its own, she heard it: the earth singing to her again. Her hope hadn’t died. Her fate wasn’t sealed.
So excited about the ArtSeen Studio Tour!
Thank goodness for fall-like weather. It is a much needed reprieve from the Texas heat, and it always makes us want to be outside. Lucky for us, there is so much to do here in Frisco this month in the Arts!
Meet the ArtSeen Artists a week early, pick up a copy of the ArtSeen Tour Map, and see thegallery8680’s newest exhibit “Me, Myself, I” at the opening reception. Thegallery8680 has the best crowd, fantastic food and a who’s who list of artists at their shows. Don’t miss it! More at thegallery8680.com.
October 8 – Frisco Arts Walk at Hall Park presented by Frisco Arts.
Frisco Arts brings you an immersive arts experience taking place at the newly renovated HALL Park among the Texas Sculpture Garden, a significant body of work that celebrates Texas artists and is…
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I submitted a small drawing for a contest hosted by Dick Blick. Check it out and vote for my piece here: bit.ly/2cstWDc!
I did a small drawing for one of my classes. Read the accompanying explanation below.
This piece of art is rendered in ink and graphite and is primarily a visual representation of Titania and Nick Bottom. The piece was made small to make it an intimate piece: the viewer must draw near to see what it is. Ink is a thoughtful medium: it must be placed on the vellum deliberately and with care because it leaves a permanent mark. This was an intentional choice because the nuance and detail that can be achieved in the lines is expressive and a befitting the nature of the ideas explored in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Ink is also a fitting medium because mistakes made are permanent and, while they can be made to feel an intentional part of the composition, they exist forever in the piece as a poor choice or a slip of the hand.
Oberon’s hand is represented as a sneaking shadow, encroaching on Titania’s neck. His hand a visual representation of the forces exerted on certain characters to control others: Oberon over Titania, Theseus over Hyppolyta, Puck over the young lovers and Nick Bottom.
In Titania’s eyes, the deceitful flower rests. The petals growing out through her lids distort her vision and trick her into loving the simple ass in front of her. In her hair twigs and leaves grow, a simple crown for the queen of the wood. Her head is illuminated by a halo as a depiction of her righteous duty to raise the child of her mortal friend and prevent Oberon from taking the boy and training him for combat. The halo is also representative of her innocence: she wants to be at ease with Oberon and dislikes the world being awry when they are at odds. Her desire for respect inspired trickery and manipulation in her husband and his cohort.
Bottom is drawn as placid, sitting idly at the bottom of the frame. What his gaze is occupied with is left to the viewer to determine: perhaps he’s gazing upon Titania’s body, perhaps upon some food. He is surrounded by flowers, which, peaceful and light, are devoid of humanity and function as a representation of his adoption by Titania and her entourage following the abandonment he suffers as a result of his friends’ fear of his transformed self.
It’s been a while since I’ve sat and penned a note for the faceless internet. I don’t think many follow my sporadically-updated blog, so I don’t think I’ve bruised anyone’s feelings by not updating frequently.
I have an inkling I’ll experience a resurgence in my desire to write, in my love of drawing, in my inclinations to share what I experience and the ways in which I handle it.
Here is a rather large piece (relative to the average size of the work I typically produce) that is currently in progress:
And the sketch upon which it is loosely based:
So far, I’m a bit more enamored with the sketch than the large brush and ink piece. A lot can change over the time it takes to finish a piece, especially since I’ve been working a bit slowly of late.