004 We may find ourselves enveloped underwater, caught within a vortex of swirling fog or stinging snow, or suffused with the sun’s warmth.

Around us, creatures are similarly swaddled–in elaborate nests, in their mother’s wings or flippers, in a miniature forest of scarlet bristles.

A sea of symphony notes may surround us as surely as a riptide.

Reflected light and color may place us within a pointillist portrait.

Flora encased in ice.  A tree wound round with a red net scarf.  Endlessly enfolded layers of petals.

One may also be enveloped in emotion, from the joy of a baby’s birth to grief’s gray fog. Encased in stultifying, zero-at-the-bone fear. Trapped in a web of sorrows.

Among all these enveloping forces, surely the greatest is love’s tender hold.

Outlandish Orange

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Photo used with permission from Joan Barrows (c)2015

Especially in deep winter, one sometimes needs at least a splash of orange.  Summer sun echoed in the orb of a buoy on a frozen sea.  A brief blinding illumination as a setting sun hits evergreens in a sea of crystalline snow.   Robins clinging to empty branches.  Papery roses imported from a much warmer climate.

Perhaps no other solitary figure has exhibited such anthropomorphic angst at the absence of orange as did Lorca’s Barren Orange Tree, robbed of its very identity:

Cut my shadow from me.
Free me from the torment
of seeing myself without fruit.”

Something in the color orange is inherently merry.  It shouts; it commands our attention. In its vividness and expressiveness it seems to be the youngest child of the color spectrum.

A dash of it goes a long way.

A horizon of orange–blazing, rusty, saturated or more subdued–reassures me that what’s beyond my sight cannot possibly be nothing but black.

The Right Time

It’s not always dark at night.

But sometimes the transition between day and night is unmistakable.

The day may fade into ho-hum waves of gray-blue, but—just as one is tempted to look away–the horizon can blaze back in a band of coral and lavender before settling in for the night.  Or a city might surprise us by bathing a building or bridge in startling new colors.

And sometimes nightfall brings not a lingering, shimmering sunset rainbow, but breaks into black depths described by Charles Wright:

“Clear night, thumb-top of a moon, a back-lit sky.
Moon-fingers lay down their same routine
On the side deck and the threshold, the white keys and the black keys.
Bird hush and bird song. A cassia flower falls.”


” . . . . And the wind says “What?” to me.
And the castor beans, with their little earrings of death, say “What?” to me.
And the stars start out on their cold slide through the dark.
And the gears notch and the engines wheel.”

Texture: From Mesh and Lace to Ivy and Twine

022Texture can be a feast for the eyes as well as for the sense of touch.

At a Farmers’ Market this weekend, bright clumps of  wool were encased in looped ivy branches.  They hung overhead like oversized Christmas tree ornaments.  Summer sun elided their edges to a dazzling white that was one with the sky.

In Modern English‘s “I Melt With You,” mesh and lace is the textural equivalent of the rainbow’s edge: all else in the world is but a veiled, decorative backdrop to the song’s human object:

“I saw the world thrashing all around your face
Never really knowing it was always mesh and lace”

On the opposite end of the textural spectrum is the Biblical anguish conjured by images of flesh bound with tenacious ivy and bristly twine.

Another kind of love song entirely.

The person who melted away in Modern English’s song–the singular stark human reality against a filmy lattice of a universe–seems to have departed before the beginning lyrics of Mumford & Sons’ “Below My Feet“:

“You were cold as the blood through your bones
And the light which led us from our chosen homes
Well I was lost 

And now I sleep,
Sleep the hours that I can’t weep
When all I knew was steeped in blackened holes
Well I was lost . . . .

Continue reading “Texture: From Mesh and Lace to Ivy and Twine”

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