|The Meal of Lord Candlestick/Leonora Carrington|
The Chaos Orchestra
A thunderstorm sweeps in over the
foothills. Lightning sets fire to several firs clinging to a sandstone cliff
above town. All the lights go out. Rain beats against roofs, windows, doors.
Inside the church at the centre of town, a man with a stocking pulled over his
head begins to pull bell ropes. Fire spreads through the hills. He smiles at
the church custodian, bound and gagged, slumped beneath the belfry window.
Everything is going according to plan:
first, he’d thrown turtle shells into glowing ash, interpreted the cracks as
time lines; then, blindfolded, he’d thrown darts at a map of the world; finally,
he’d drawn cards from a deck illustrated with every musical instrument known to
He doesn’t wonder what would have
happened if he’d pulled the saxophone card instead of church bells because he
doesn’t believe in chance. He is certain that he – and everyone else in town –
are players in a divine plot. They have always been destined to play in this
orchestra of fire, smoke, bells, and rain.
A woman rushes out of her dark house,
into her garden, following the smell of smoke. The sight of brilliant magenta
petals shining in the downpour ignites her brain, strips all questions from her.
Next to the fierce purple flowers are seven black pansies; black hands, pushing
through wet soil, like Cimmerian worms swaying in the night, called up from the
underworld by the cacophony of bells.
|The Ancestor/Leonora Carrington|
a vacation run, he passed the house, saw it was for sale. Back at his rental
cottage he made the call. When he showed up for the tour his wife was with him.
They both told the owner how much they liked “the western decor.” The owner
corrected them: “Southwest.”
are katchina dolls here, in a cabinet behind glass. On the walls, upstairs,
half-naked young Indians hold each other, all be-feathered, air-brushed with
war paint. On the wall above the glass doors to the porch that looks over the
lake hangs a peace pipe, stamped as authentic because there is a card attached
that says the artist is registered with a tribe.
was there. I watched. While they talked, the acorns outside fell, rolled down
the macadam drive. Red leaves floated by the dock.
sink. Oaks die. Crows feed. Fish settle in the gloom beneath the surface,
unmoving; the true thoughts of water. He bought the house, kept the
southwest decor. Soon after, they
was there. I heard it all: the arguments, recriminations; the sound of tiny
feet in the middle of the night; the whispering beneath their bed; the slamming
man now goes down to the dock at night, raises his arms to the light from a
house across the water. Black snakes ripple through the light. I remain. I will
be here long after this house falls.
The paintings above are by Leonora Carrington.
If you want to know more, you can find the beginning of my series on her life and work
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