Cicadas (Thailand. Rewrite)

 

 

 

She could hear his abdomen, even from eight stories above. She knew he waited for her, dressed in new skin holding the bark of a mango tree. For thirteen years, she had dug and hid, dug and hid, a pale pearl of a nymph sheltered in flooding clay. Prematurely buried. She had fed on rootjuice and waited.

And now, the time for burying herself had gone. She no longer wore the tough soil skin of the past. The brightness of being was nearly unbearable. She was green and larger than herself.

She sat exposed, mesmerized by the equatorial sunlight and the sound of his clicking ribs. She could see him from here, just a speck, but she could tell even at this distance that he looked back at her. Through her ten eyes, he was a kaleidoscope of rounded cicada flecks, mirrored and moving in unison, calling her to the ground.

And then a closer sound. Behind her, ten of the same dark-haired girls with lightning eyes and cloud-colored skin reached a catastrophic finger in her direction.

She heard him again, dry-fly ribs rubbing together to blot out the sounds of metropolitan traffic and children. The vibrations called to her.

She looked down at the expectant mango tree and imagined the future she would create: millions of shimmery nymphs sprinkling from the branches, raining onto the soil below, christening the ground with their sparkling selves.

There was nothing for her to do now, except let go.

 

 

Back in the day, I wrote about submitting some of my flash fiction to Flash Frontier.  This rewrite of my original post was published in Flash Frontier’s November Issue, Eye Contact.

 

Also, I’d like to reiterate my Creative Commons love to Flickr user Roger Smith for the amazing photo!

Writing Challenge: When the Goddesses Come Out

 

 

Nymphs, goddesses, apsaras, maenads!  It’s May.  There’s a fresh exhilaration in the air.  Mother’s Day is coming up.  I have been incredibly inspired by all those bloggers who did the A-Z blogging challenge in April.  These things all fit together nicely in a little challenge that I am setting for myself.  This month, I am endeavoring to write about 26 strong, creative women from mythology.  So, the goal is to write 26 short stories, one based on a female mythological figure for each letter of the alphabet.  Feel free to join me, or to set your own goal for this month.  New growth and new beginnings are in the air!

 

A special Creative-Commons “Thanks!” to itjournalist from flickr for the photo!

Full Pink Moon

It’s the golden hour, and all the plants are glowing as I make my way up the hill.  The sky is shocking, pink and blue and purple, as if suddenly bruising from its collision with the earth.  I want to reach up and comfort its throbbing beauty.  The turning leaves soak up the last bits of sun and radiate as if they were autumnal lanterns.  They light my way as the air turns dark.

The turning of the season and my northern-hemisphere body are at odds.  It’s nearly Beltane.  My blood wants to dance around fires throwing the cozy scarves and mittens of hibernation wantonly to the wind.  My skin is expectant with the warmth of new beginnings, and yet the gusts here are becoming harsher.  I push on.  It’s not fall for me.

As the final rays of the day tuck themselves in behind clouds and hills, I reach the well.  The very sight of the clearing tugs at something inside me.  I finger the stones, making them melt and turn to sand, as if they were an old lover who’d been waiting for my touch.

In response, I remove my shoes and socks.  My toes dig into the dirt and rocks dig back into my soles.  The breeze lifts my shirt and grazes my belly.  It’s all the impetus I need.  The wind keeps nibbling at me, encouraging me, and so I tie my clothes to the hawthorn tree.

It’s cloudy tonight and I know it’s no accident.  The moon is hiding in the shadow of the earth, tucked in the darkness of her cave as if in hibernation.  She’s just waiting for her moment.  It’s an up-side-down celebration here.  The leaves are beginning to saunter away from their branches.   The night is still pregnant with the potential of sprouts and seedlings, even as Antarctic winds raise mountain ranges of goose bumps on my skin.

I start a fire and I know you will be here soon.  I wonder how many logs and how much kindling we will need to last through the night.  The moon is flush and full.  Beneath my feet, the phlox creep further and further from the well.  The pink moss stretches its feelers toward unknown lands, testing whether those grounds hold lives that it can live.  The dainty flowers look up to the moon and howl, reflecting her full, surprised face back in their flushed cheeks.  They beam on a night like tonight.  They gather in such numbers and their blushing blazes so brightly that even the moon blushes back.

You come with logs for the fire and no words.  Before long we have our own sun flickering before us. “Ne’er cast a cloot ‘til Mey’s oot,” they warned us.  It’s not quite May, but it is time to cast our clothes.  The cold of the April wind nibbles at our skin and makes it blush, in brazen mimicry of the pink moon.  The light is deafening, and I am exposed, as are you.  The heat of the fire makes my frontside glow.  The cold of the April wind turns my backside pink.  I am round and glowing, a perfect salmon moon.

We dance in circles, falling into orbit around the fire.  I am drunk on the pollen wafting through the air, and red, yellow, and brown leaves swirl around me.  I can no longer tell whether I am surrounded by flames or trees or both.  Stars leap from the fire, embers fall from the sky.  I collapse into the embrace of the infinite.

Lost in space like this, there is no north and south, no spring or fall, only the endless expanse of new fires being lit.

 

 

Creative Commons love to phil dokas from flickr for the stunning photo!

Fall in the Long White Cloud

It’s a wet kind of cold, the kind that still allows things to grow.  The cloudy sky and diffused light makes the green of the plants more striking and they glisten with the drops of rain.  Actually, the rain doesn’t quite drop.  The air is so thick with water that it falls in a mist, mot even heavy enough to be a drizzle.  It makes me feel like I am walking through a long, white cloud, as if I am so far above the earth that I am inside the sky.  Only the moss reminds me that I am at sea level.

The tree outside my window has been dying all summer, but now, in the cold of the autumn rain it has begun again to grow.  It also seems confused by these antipodean seasons.  It lost its leaves in the shining sun of the summer drought, and now that it’s fall, it’s sprouting new life.

The koru seem unsure about whether or not to open.  I am sure I’ve seen the ferny tendrils on my path tentatively stretch open, and now they’ve closed again, as if pulling back from the abrupt, damp, winter.  Their spiral fractals seem to contract and breathe, opening timidly and closing again.

It’s on days like this I long to be outside, to feel the growth and life.  The plants and ground feel full with the potential that the rain brings, bursting with possibility and expectant growth.  I want that potential, that possibility, that growth.

 

 

This is a little birthday present from New Zealand for my awesome, amazing, inspiring cousin, Janelle.  

 

Also, Kiwi Creative Commons love to Brenda Anderson for the photo.  Thanks so much!

Darunsikkhalai (Thailand. May 2010.)

(Reposted for Ram (:  )

Norea wondered how the scene in front of her looked to the tour group.  A woman framed her mock-surprised face with her hands as she backed away from a set of high-heeled feet dangling lifelessly.  In a circle around the computer screen, 8 orange-striped ten-year-olds in pleather rolly chairs listlessly watched the drama.  Only their Thai teacher seemed enrapt.  In the corner, the teaching assistant scrolled through pictures of cookies shaped like Lady Gaga.  From the window outside, the five professors on Norea’s tour tittered like overexcited hamsters.

“Very… unusual school,” one of them said to her.  Norea nodded.

Norea turned around so that her silvery eyes met the horizon. On the eighth floor, she had an uninterrupted view of the city.  In the distance, the most recognizable bridges in Bangkok batted golden eyes as they coyly skirted behind the smog.  They dropped gray-brown veils onto the vibrating city below as they shimmied in the heat.   The distant downtown towers looked as if they had donned their best khakis and sidled up next to the stage to enjoy the show.   The scene was suspended, a sepia photo with blurred edges and a highlighted blue sky.  All the smiles were frozen.

The wet, climbing ivy that was the Chao Phraya River evaporated inexorably up the sides of skyscrapers, covered the cars parked on bridges, and hid the street vendors, encircling the city in its grasp.

“The children learn by creating,” she told the group, still looking at the hazy sparkle in the distance.  “In this class, they are learning Thai culture and language by studying curses.  In the coming weeks, they will make their own drama about curses.”

The group nodded in unison and Norea guided them downstairs.

“And does it work?” a professor with too-red lipstick and an unmoving-shell of hair asked.

“The sixth floor has science labs and the facilitator’s offices,” Norea said.

Creative Commons love to http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikebehnken/ for the picture!

Cicadas (Thailand. May 2010.)

She could hear his abdomen, even from eight stories above. She knew he waited for her, dressed in new skin holding the bark of a mango tree. For thirteen years, she had dug and hid, dug and hid, a pale pearl of a nymph sheltered in flooding clay. Prematurely buried. She had fed on rootjuice and waited.

And now, the time for burying herself was gone. She no longer wore the tough soil skin of the past. The brightness of being was nearly unbearable. She was green and larger than herself.

She sat exposed, mesmerized by the equatorial sunlight and the scene in front of her. A kaleidescope of rounded, dark-haired girls with lightning eyes and cloud-colored skin. Mirrored and moving the same. The repetition of girls had no expression on their faces. Their mouths moved at the groups of people surrounding them, but their dream-time eyes looked through the scene.

She heard him again, dry-fly ribs rubbing together to blot out the sounds of metropolitan traffic and children. The vibrations called to her.

She looked down at the expectant mango tree and imagined the future she would create. Millions of shimmery nymphs sprinkling from the branches, raining onto the soil below, christening the ground with their sparkling selves.

There was nothing for her to do now, except let go.

 

 

 

Creative Commons love to http://www.flickr.com/photos/rogersmith/ for the photo! Thanks!

 

I want to feel (Colorado. Winter 2002.)

I want to feel

your arms

spinning me as we dance

until the sun rises

and we must

fall as autumn

rays sneak over mountain tops

and caress our faces

lulling us to lay down

in grass sweating dew

 

I want to feel

your chest

sleeping pressed

against

my back

assuring

me of your presence

with no sheets between us

as I tell the secrets

you knew when we met

 

I want to feel

your hand

cradling my head

tangled

in my hair

so that he cannot leave

until my strands relax

safe

and let him go

Fall(ing) Breeze (Colorado. Fall 2002.)

 

 

I

 

This autumn wind is gold tinted

from the dust, remains

of a dry summer floating

in the air, pulled

into my nostrils, and settling

(for) on windows that have not been

opened in months.

 

Or maybe the wind is

doing his own interpretation

of the yellow wilting leaves

of trees happily surrendering

to sleep, well-earned, long awaited;

for these aspens have not slept in months.

 

But it cannot be –

the wind does not sleep and

he does not happily surrender.

 

II

 

The leaves are tossed

in a migrating gust

letting go to dance in a breeze

that could take them anywhere.

Let go, for even the ground is better

than someone else’s limbs.

 

How can these fair-haired leaves

dance freely if someone else

is spinning them?

Say goodbye to your tree.

The restless wind is calling you.

 

 

 

Creative Commons love to http://www.flickr.com/photos/vbenedetti/ on flickr for the photo! Grazie!

Word Flood (Winter 2012.)

“Self-expression must pass into communication for fulfillment.” –Pearl S. Buck

Her words sank.  Not quickly like an anchor, or with a splash like a rock.  Instead as she spoke, her words fluttered in the air, held afloat by the humidity.  They tickled earlobes, in a language half a world away. Pieces of ideas curled with the wind among tendrils of jasmine, leaving a heavy scent wafting through the city.  Nouns and verbs together toyed with bodhi leaves, pulling them along as they flitted to the ground.  They landed gently on the Chao Phraya, quivering on the surface of the river and leaving ripples too small to be noticed.  Amongst water hyacinth and coconuts they floated, gathering silt and absorbing the wetness of the city.  In this way, the words gained weight and began to drown.

Before long, they swam in the wake of snakefish and nestled between the scales of water monitors.  The more weight they gathered, the more they were immersed, the harder it was to see them. The light had trouble reaching them between algae and waste and even apsaras would be hard pressed to find them.  They landed on the river bed, stirring up the bottom and throwing silt into an already murky darkness.  Covered.

And soon all her pen could do was draw the curves of the paths her words had taken, as if trying to retrace their steps.  Searching between the roots of ficus trees and the stamens of hibiscus for where she had misplaced them.  A world made of tendrils and bubbles, floating in a silent and wordless black and white.  Sea horses and leaves and turtles all swirled with a silent current.  Owls became nok hoo, knock, who? and lost their edges and their names.  Questions were gone and statements no longer made sense.  The world churned as if everything were from the point of view of those lost words, staring up at far away surface of a river that always was moving.

And then there was a flood.  The water seeped slowly, climbing up through sewers and along the streets.  The river rose past dams and sandbags bringing pythons into houses and buoys into cars.  It brought everything from its depths, decay, sand, and her words, which huddled against a curb and waited for the waters to recede.  After months, the river left, burrowing back into its banks but leaving its refuse to dry in the sun.  The sediment cracked and caked.  Mosquito larvae dried like tiny raisins.  The decomposing river sludge made banana trees greener and left seedling strangler figs sprouting along sidewalks.  And, as if growing out from cracked pavement, her words dried, too, finally able to breathe and soak up a little bit of the warm winter sun.

The Weight of Bangkok (Thailand. Summer 2006.)

It was a small splash, the first time the Chao Phraya River touched her skin. It collected itself, making a rivulet, its own tiny clone, and slithered from her shoulder, down her back. It was easy enough to brush off at the time; her attention was focused on ochre-colored robes of tan-colored monks and the smell of sewage. The busy-ness of Bangkok is enough to distract even the most worldly of travelers. It would caress her often while she tried to wrap her mind around the city. She often mistook its gentle droplets for her own sweat. Little by little it seeped into her clothes. The algae would get invisibly caked in her hair. Bathing only made it worse, since it was the same snake that came out of the faucet, running in tiny streams down her legs and nesting in her drain, just waiting for the next time she would stand above it. It brought all of Thailand into her room. The sweat from the bathing mother. The piss of the Ko Kret buffalo. The decomposing rice leaves. The acrid saliva of Asian Open-Billed Storks. The ashes of incense from Wat Pai Lom. The river left them on her eyelashes, resting on the shelf of her belly button and curled in the ques of her pubic hair. In less than two weeks time, she was drowning in it, tangled in water hyacinth.

The combination of water hyacinth and wet heat left me with dreams of the Amazon. Before long, each day was laced with ayahuasca. My stomach ached for and wretched with the newness of each experience. My appetite left me completely, and food became just another beautiful band in the rainbow of the life around me. Piranhas nibbled my toes as I walked down streets dusty with the resin of car exhaust, curry-laced smoke, and incense cinders. Vipers strung themselves from telephone poles and carried the secrets of the city from Klongsan to Phra Pinklao. The sky let loose a constant rain of wet sunshine. Even at night, nothing was dry. The moist fervor of the city covered my body, making it a struggle to keep my hips still.

In the end, it was the weight of everything which finally drove me mad. Every blanket was too heavy to sleep under. Just thinking became dangerous because one could get smothered under the weight of a simple idea. Each thought that went into the air collected condensation and dust, becoming more and more tangible and visible, until it finally dropped to the ground in a puddle and actually existed.