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Her Eyes Wide Not Looking at Anything in Particular

Boxcars and Bottlecaps

La Tela de Araña
















Her Eyes Wide Not Looking at Anything in Particular

This painting looks better in the mirror. This painting looks better after sunset, the horizon still on fire, still brilliant and red. There are mountains. Can you see them? Blue mountains in the distance holding up the red, brilliant in its need. Can you see baby Bacchus getting his evening meal? He is hungry, he drinks eagerly from the dish. What I like is the wine-sprite in the background, a wreath of green leaves on his tender head. What I like are the handsome young men on their knees squeezing grapes into juice. I am drawing a picture for you, simple and neat. Can you see it, dear boy? Can you trace the quiet beauty of nature? It is like a footprint melting into a pallid sky. It is a painted story of St. George and the dragon. I will play tragic for you. I will play dead, invite the flies to buzz around my face as you draw the scene on the palm of your hand with a red ink pen. We will invite the public, charge a hefty admission. Have you a better suggestion?


I know what you think but they are harmless. They wander around in a hundred different directions looking for gourmet coffee. We will tell them it is French art. We will say the artist has studied in Italy, that he has learned to unite the beauty of nature with the beauty of people. You believe the people are beautiful, don't you? You believe in swimming naked, your palm dripping red through the water? What I like about French art is that it does not speak of wanting things, of infinite loneliness. Bacchus does not speak of memories. Bacchus does not speak of perhaps learning from a fatal past. This painting looks better with a fair maiden on her knees. Around her is a clouded blue sky and a Frenchman painting Italian landscapes, exactly the right background for her moody features, exactly the right background for plenty of talk about sexual gratification. I know what you are thinking but there is no special devotion on her face, she is merely thoughtful; more directly impacted by her problem than you, forever correcting, forever a red flower in the palm of your hand.

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Boxcars and Bottlecaps

It is almost time for the show to start. It is almost time for the peanuts and the popcorn and the crowds. Can you hear the noise? Here is the ringmaster, humming into his megaphone: soon she will not be able to breathe; soon she will walk around asking the children if they have seen her tiny elephant and her red umbrella. The tickets are selling fast enough, there is money to be made. This is America; this is the land of concrete and barbed wire. Here is me putting on make-up, making my nose look like a little round ball. Here is me making myself a new face for myself, a big red mouth going up one side and down the other. The parade is on its way down the street. Here they are now, throwing candy on my behalf; the people are clapping, they are waiting to see what funny things the little clown will do. They want to see me make silence out of an elephant, pink cotton candy from a red umbrella. They are selfish like that. They want to see me disappear, feeling very happy, feeling very full as they walk to their cars; creating a sense of home, creating a new face, painted white, a thick black line from ear to ear.

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La Tela de Araña

 

Some spiders live under the water, building tents in the shape of a bell. They carry down air, trapping it under, trapping themselves under their little bell-shaped tents for days at a time. They come out for food. They come out for light. They do not dig holes in the ground. They do not build webs from one branch of a swaying tree to another. They make no notice of their footprints in the sand. They trace nothing, not their own path, not their breath in the air. They make no notice of romance or apathy. They do not know, they do not care, they do not think. They swim down, they swim up; they catch bubbles of air and take it below. They have no voice. They feel no embarrassment or stupidity or foolishness. They do not record new phone messages in hopes of listening to the heavy voice of a lover calling to say goodbye just one last time. They are spiders. They have adapted to the environment. The female lays her eggs and dies. She has no memory. She has no way of erasing. She is quiet; she says nothing; she was never there.

 

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KAREN ASHBURNER is the General Editor of Dicey Brown magazine. She has recently been published in Juked and Menda City Press. More of her work is forthcoming at Wandering Army. If you would like to see more of her work, save yourself the google time and just go here.