Monday, June 8, 2015

2 Shorts - Chaos & Kachinas

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 man.

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.

(Previously published in Madhat Lit )

The Ancestor/Leonora Carrington

House by the Lake

On 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.” 

There 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. 

I was there. I watched. While they talked, the acorns outside fell, rolled down the macadam drive. Red leaves floated by the dock.

Boats 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 divorced.

I 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 doors.

The 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.


Down Below

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