Thursday, March 13, 2008

the spell

Today we are driving west, far beyond the edge of this frenetic town and into the wide, rolling hills of tallgrass and mesquite, to hang the memory of a kiss that never happened out to flap like laundry strung for miles on the rising wind. Times like these I long to be more landscape than flesh. The shudder and swell of earth, rent and split in heaves of granite, documents such urgent, immemorial longings--whereas mine, the longings of the “intricate spirited tissues” is fragile and ephemeral in comparison. A whisper.

I am adjusting to a different time here at the lake, a time measured in the progress of a swallowtail butterfly grazing its way over henbane toward my awaiting lens. Walking along the water’s edge, I cup in one hand Sophie’s expanding collection: an iridescent snail shell, a smooth piece of glass, the leg of a large grasshopper, two red and white bobbers. The bobbers tug at my heart. My sweetest childhood memories are saturated with the sounds of water lapping beneath the dock, the smells of thick cedar and the boat engine sputtering. I like to think they are all there now, the ghosts of my past, playing a scratchy Glen Miller recording on the turntable and a game of gin, my grandfather with his binoculars patiently, silently waiting, watching for hours out on the deck. This would be my heaven, the whole family gathering after life out at the lake unto eternity.

A pair of pelicans stretches into flight beneath layers of seagulls, buzzards, and hawks gliding on thermals. Our shadows are cast long out into the lake, into the depths of the water threaded with light, and I realize that no lens could capture all of this beauty at once. Is it possible that the depth of beauty is just a factor of depth of field, or is it that truly deep and breathtaking beauty, resides in the momentary, in the unrecordable? Maybe unrecordable on film, or in words, but somehow I am sure that every traveler passing this same way we have come to the edge of this water, where the wind stirs and the stars are just beginning to appear, lingers unwittingly a moment on the frayed edge of that unfulfilled kiss, still whipping in a spring gust, almost freed from the spell of a mesquite thorn.