Studies on moving life, "33 x 43.75"

 

            A turbulent market day.

            The square is filled to the brim. Ramshackle stands overflow with dried fruit, nuts, and endless spices. The bustling rumblings of the human anthill swirl far into the air. Life is in full and glorious swing.

 

            The sun surveys the scene, casting its rays over the large square in merciless glory.  It roasts the foreheads of sweaty fishmongers that bellow and bicker in the incomprehensible jargon of commerce.  The intense heat is assuaged only by the few towering palm trees that lay at the square’s edge.

             Produce, fish, money, clothes, unexplainable and incomprehensible things exchange hands back and forth. There is no logic to what takes place — but all is understood. Everyone plays their part beautifully: the buyer, the seller, the haggler, the haggled, the anger, the laughter, the disbelief at the price of the thing. The place is falling apart, teetering at the brink of chaos — and all is well.

            Beyond and below, vessels pepper the landscape as they soar in and out of the port — who knows what wonders, what countless other scenes of life these have passed through. They arrive out of thin air, and as if magic, conjure up numerous delights of taste, sound, color and smell — and, then, off they go, back unto the edge of the world.  

Ephemeral clouds of white intermingle with the clear blue canvas of the sky beyond. An occasional gull flies across the sky, gawking over the whole thing.

 

            A raucous spreads throughout the market. It is of a different key than the usual and, in the span of a breath, all have recognized the change. Before there is word of what is happening, the market has been displaced and a crowd gathers. All hope for some exciting thing — a fight perhaps, a broken stand or two.  Commotion brews.

 

            At the far end of the square, a dazzling procession parts through the chaotic scene. Mighty stallions, legs as thick and high as most merchants, make way, sneering at all those that stand before them. The animals are not of this land and they stand like beasts amongst the small men. They whip snot and saliva onto the floor and sandaled bare feet. The market makes way but not without the highest and most absolute indignation, jeering at the disruption of their perfect turmoil. 

            Sat above the great horses are knights in radiant armour, outposts of His Highest and Most Absolute Excellency the Viceroy. Great banners of royal yellow and purple stand like sails above the mob, announcing the distant immanence of this strange rulership. Light dances everywhere as the rays of the sun bounce off the great shields and breastplates of immaculate silver.  Swords dangle from sheaths into the crowd.

 

            At the helm of the procession is a mountain of a man — the general. He prods nonchalantly through the scene, holding lightly onto the reins of his stallion.  The slyest smile dances on his lips, his face bespeaking the sweetest arrogance. He is impervious to the hatred that spews at him from all sides and basks only in the radiance of his power. A rolled parchment bearing the seal of His Excellency rests in his hands.  

            Slowly but surely, the procession makes its way through the square. The crowd let them pass but follow closely behind. Feigned anger and resentment hide excitement, for they know something is about to transpire. 

 

            The unit trots up to the steps of the great temple. The tall and ancient building looks over the city and into the horizon, matching its gaze to that of the sun’s. There is no telling how long the thing has sat here: many and many a market day it has seem come and go — many a sunset, many a tide, many a ruler and patron. And though ages come and go, the great follies and dramas of men blowing all around it, only the greatest peace emanates from its silent stone.

 

            The crowd gathers now at the entrance of the building. A great boisterousness rings out in all directions.

            The high priest of the town bursts forth from the temple doors, his thick dazzling white robe brushing the floor behind. A small posse of lesser clergy and sycophants follow suit, scurrying at his feet. The man’s tall hat, encrusted with small shining jewels of ruby red, blazes out into the crowd. Indignation and fury lays plastered across his face — who dare disrupt the sanctity of my abode, it screams.

            The general, without caring to dismount from his stallion, holds out the rolled parchment in his direction. The priest looks on. 

 

 

 

            A grove in the heavens.

            A small pond quivers by a large and heavenly tree playing in its waters a reflection of the drama of the kingdoms above.  A beautified and immaculate mother sits at its foot, looking upon her reflection in the water. What she ideates, it is hard to say — but it is undoubtedly divine.

           Angels flutter to and fro, carrying countless a message throughout the great hierarchy of seraphim and cherubim, thrones and archangels. They whisper in each other’s ears — behind trees, behind clouds, midflight — and in an instant are gone.

            Only the most profound sense of duty and elegant joy suffuses the place — for it is yet another glorious day in the kingdom of the Lord and the songs of the heavens churn throughout creation. 

 

            In the distant background, golden gates are opened. It is hard to tell from here, however, for the air is thin and in this kingdom all is airy and insubstantial. A pearl of indistinguishable light seems to ride forth from behind the gates. It comes toward the grove.

            As it nears, the pearl takes shape and form: ‘tis this a great being of light, a direct envoy of the inner chambers of the palace. Golden radiant wings shine with the great eminence of the King, for it has been not long ago in Its presence.  A great posse of angels follow behind. They sound trumpets of the divine.

            The procession approaches the immaculate mother. She notices them not, however, for her mind is at endless play with the ripples of the pond.

            The great archangel sees the preciousness of her musings and takes care to approach with great delicacy — for it knows that these are certainly of the Lord. Outstretching a hand behind, it signals the company of angels to wait beyond the confines of the grove. They obey.  

            With great levity, the beautified messenger of wing and light enters the place and floats towards the mother. In a motion of perfect grace, it brings its lips to her ears.

            The slightest smile. A whisper. Her mission.

             She hears — but her eyes from the pond are moved not.

 

 

 

            A path meanders through the countryside.

            Sprouts of lavender fill the air with the sweet fragrance of spring. Flowers of red and yellow dot the tall grass, waystops for bees in their dance of pollination. A wooden fence marks the landscape in the distance — whether to keep in or to keep out, it is hard to tell.

            On yonder, at the far reaches of the path, the thick vegetation of the forest beckons the wanderer to its abode. Under these luscious leaves of oaks and beeches, all are invited to take a rest from the day’s travails. Any a weary traveller can rest assured that in their shade dreams will be only of the sweetest delights — for the notes of spring and the songs of the earth enfold the day.

 

            A child runs down the path. A ruffled scarf wraps around his neck, fitting tightly into a buttoned vest. Underneath, a white linen shirt is tucked into skintight trousers. 

            He holds his hat in the right hand that swings behind him. It threatens to blow away into the wind but he seems to pay it little worry — his eyes are set only ahead. The child is painfully overdressed but it seems not to encumber his joyous trot.

            In the distance the voice of a mother, an aunt perhaps, can be heard, though she cannot be seen. Her words flutter through the scene: don’t be out too late, they bellow. It is a pre-cautionary scolding, for she knows already that the devious child will come naught a second before the sun has sunk away.

            The words are heard only by the wind, however — for the child has run free and the things of the world no longer fill his mind. Nothing can pull him back now. Nothing can keep him from flying away into the thousand games of the day.

            He runs — and the countryside dances around him.

 

 

            I stroll through into the next room. The crisp air-conditioned breeze caresses my skin.

             A man in a suit stands by the doorframe — a caretaker of the place.  He nods, beckoning me a good day in silence. I nod back, a light smile across my face.

            My hands rest lightly behind my back. Opulent frames of gold and bronze surround me, spreading out unto the end of the large hall. Countless scenes beckon me unto them as I walk, each one calling me to some new delight.

            I offer no resistance. Together, in paint stroke and color, we bring worlds to life.