Pumpkins — An Image

Pumpkins

Here is a colored pencil drawing I began on Monday. After a brief abandonment, I returned to it yesterday and finished it up. The colors are not exactly “true” — I work on white paper, not toned or tinted, as it might appear. The smaller pumpkin is a mini, and the larger I believe is a Kabocha squash, which I got at our local farmers’ market last Saturday. Much of the produce I pick up at the market does double duty — first, as still life; next as meal. This Kabocha’s destiny is not yet determined — it may find its way into mini pumpkin biscotti, or squash mash over sautéed greens, or a pumpkin barley risotto. Such potential!

Happy Halloween!

PS — Now I’m thinking of pumpkin waffles…and I do love waffles…!

Tradition — A Dream

I peer through a square pane of glass, smudged at the corners with grit. This lends the scene below an antique character — curving, cobbled streets, damp from a passing shower; tall, sun-washed buildings leaning shoulder to shoulder. I realize I am in Pamplona, and an image in sepia tones appears before my mind’s eye, crowding out all else — a photo that has not yet been taken, of a bull being speared. The great creature’s body has been captured as it rears up, front hooves churning air, head and horns twisting leftward. A long, black lance-like spear thrusts from the bull’s right side body.

For a moment, I wonder how the photographer could manage to take the photo without being trampled himself. I speculate as to a structure that might be placed in the street’s center to protect the photographer on three sides when the runners and the bull arrive, and thus divert the tide of violence to pass around while affording an incredible view of the spectacle.

Suddenly, all is noise and chaos. I press my cheek to the glass. Surrounded by waves of people, the very bull I had foreseen in the photo runs past my cropped, squared-off view. Mud rises from the street in clots. Feet and hooves pound. The bull bellows, the men shout. From my vantage, I see a man below and to the right — he pauses at the fringe of commotion. In his hands is a great, black lance decorated lavishly with twists and coils vining from the hand guard down the lance’s length and diminishing upon reaching the weapon’s smooth, elongated tip. The man hefts the lance, draws his arm back in an impossible arc, and hurls the lance forward. It strikes first the cobbled street at an acute angle, sending up glittering sparks, then ricochets up to impale the charging bull squarely beneath its right front shoulder. The bull bellows rage and pain as the lance wags against its side body.

I find myself whisked from my lofty vantage and planted in the middle of the street behind the final wave of berserking humans who are thrilled at the sight of the bull’s shed blood. Within me, I feel a great pressure building from the soles of my feet, rushing upward to fill my lungs, until I am shouting. My voice is huge: “I don’t care if it’s tradition. I HATE it.”  I do not feel as though any one has heard me.

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“Tradition” — C.Birde, 10/26/15

The Four Sisters — An Image & A Poem

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“The Four Sisters” — C.Birde, 10/21/15

The Four Sisters twine limbs

against the elemental sky

and weave roots

to part Earth

with slow and steady certainty.

They hold the memory of years,

of an age,

in their woody flesh,

girdled within their torsos

in concentric rings.

They do not complain,

nor pass judgment,

nor beg favor

as I pass between their knees,

beneath their shadow lattice.

Yet always,

they return my greeting in

their rustling,

multi-leafed chorus.

–C.Birde

Submerged — A Dream

Sleep. Heavy as guilt, heavy as duty. It swamps. It suffocates. It rests like a great weight, pressing upon me so that I cannot think, rise, lift an eyelid. I see myself on the narrow bed, in the small cabin I share with several friends, with my boyfriend. They tried to wake me, and I struggled to oblige but could not force my way to waking. The effort had me rolling off the bed, falling to the floor in a tangle of sheets and blanket, where I remain, submerged in sleep.

My friends move about the cramped cabin space gathering objects — towels, buckets, hats. They are concerned for me, but the ship has reached port and docked. They have places to go, things to do; they are eager to go ashore. I cannot tell them it’s okay, leave me; I’ll simply sleep. Out of a sense of guilt or responsibility, one of them calls the ship’s physician, who arrives promptly. Instead of examining me, however, the doctor proceeds to massage my boyfriend. I see all through the narrowest slit of my eyelids, through the lattice of eyelashes. He lies face down on the bed opposite me, and she has straddled his back, leaned in close, hands upon his shoulders, head dipped low enough to whisper in his ear. What does she say? He smiles, oblivious to her aims, to my neglect. I cannot voice my upset.

They leave — my boyfriend and the others. As the door closes softly on their exit, I realize one friend remains. She elects to stay behind with me, to watch over me. In my heap of blankets and inert limbs on the floor, I am overwhelmed with silent gratitude. My friend can’t lift me, so she grasps the tangle of blankets, drags me to the cabin’s center. She talks to me, encourages me to wake, demands that I wake. She shakes my shoulders, gently at first, then with increasing agitation and insistence. She slaps me. It stings. I want her to stop, to leave me alone. In frustration, she looks away…and must recall the fairy tale of “Sleeping Beauty”. Slowly, she turns and regards me for a long moment. I see decisiveness flicker in her eyes. Even in my sleep-slurred state, I feel a prick of alarm. She unbuttons her blouse, puckers her lips, and leans over me…and, to our mutual surprise, I manage to emerge from labyrinthine slumber before she can kiss me. I’m uncertain if she is as relieved as I.

Although I am now awake, I am far from alert — a fog fills me, edges my peripheries. My dutiful friend begins to neaten the cabin. She gathers the drift of linens from the floor, remakes beds, straightens dressers, table and chairs. Kneeling on the floor together, we pick up tiny pieces of Lego and return them to rigid plastic bins. Neither of us speaks.

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“Submerged” — C.Birde, 10/19/15

Abiding — A Poem

I walked, this morning, with Autumn,

Her chill hand in mine,

Her breath cool on my cheek.

She wore as mantle the muted blue sky

flocked with dove-gray cloud.

We marked our steps in asters,

goldenrod, and foamy white snakeroot.

“Fret not,” she said,

“over Winter’s approach.”

Her voice rustled in sunset hues.

“Heed the crickets’ chant —

“still time still time still time.

“Harvest the cooling air.

“Gather the stretched-long rays

“of enduring sun,

“And abide.”

In downward drift around us,

the cider leaves collected,

And all the forest

breathed.

— C.Birde

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“October Tourne” — C.Birde, 10/14/15

Melodrama — A Dream

If I stand very still, if I do not move, I can see back over the spill of decades, over lifetimes to this specific scene. A grand foyer, Victorian in style, seen as if through a hole in…time? The scene’s edges darken, obscured by shadow. But at the center, the view is bright and clear — a staircase sweeps upward on the left, with heavily ornamented wrought-iron railing; straight ahead, a carved and paneled entry stands with double doors flung wide, opening onto a sunlit two-story chamber. Everything — every nook and cranny, the walls and ceiling — is highly decorated…carved, painted, flocked, tiled, gilt. The opulence is striking. The staircase, thickly carpeted, leads upward, down a hall.  A railing on the right overlooks the large, two-story chamber; doors line the left wall. Each door is heavy and dark with a polished brass knob and key-hole — and, disturbingly, a small barred window is inset upon each door’s face. I realize I am viewing an antique hospital; perhaps, an asylum.

Movement catches my attention — the opaque form of a woman. A ghost. Slowly, she drifts toward the stairs. My view narrows, focuses upon her vaporous shape and follows her closely. Up. Along the balconied hall. Past one door, then another, and another. She is grief-stricken, clutching diffuse hands to her sternum, weeping silently. Her sad history unfolds within me. She — young, naive, trusting; he — older, wealthy, arrogant. His gifts and flattery and promises of security — so persistent, so calculated. Over time, her resolve eroded. When their child was born, he had her locked away in this very hospital; he took the baby. Ultimately, she lost all.

Over and done. Swept into the dust of time’s passage. The young woman never recovered from her grief. The man died old and unrepentant, protected by his wealth and stature. What I cannot see, as I stand here, viewing this place and this scene, its history and edges obscured by grit and shadow — is what became of the child.

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“Melodrama” — C.Birde, 10/12/15

Contentment — A Truth Poetic

Chipmunks share

the morning’s news in

ringing, staccato notes;

And Jays fall

from trees in

blue-blazed truth,

hunting among acorn-hued leaves

for those derbied nuts.

The Electron finds a

white-laced length of shed

snake skin,

too delicate to lift

with slender twig.

The light is diffuse, gentle.

The air is cool and sweet.

Absorb this

’til it imbues thought

and act

and gesture.

Carry it out and into

the World beyond these

wooded doors.

— C.Birde

InstagramCapture_fc2e01ea-c9ae-4fae-86c9-999dd7dc9897“Autumn Tourne”, C.Birde Oct. 2015

Readjustment — A Truth

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“Climbing Norumbega Mountain” — C.Birde, Sept. 2015

I think I am in withdrawal — no more two-, three-, four-plus-hour hikes through landscape that transforms and surprises with shift of wind and sunlight’s exposure. No more sandwiches and chocolate atop weathered, bald-capped mountains; nor the chitter and scold of red squirrels, otherwise silent as breath. The Canine Electron, I am certain, misses the adventure, as well.

But today — this moment, right here, right now — is lovely. A great depth of Autumn sky sprawls above our small, familiar patch of Earth. Together, we have put some miles beneath our eager feet.