Wednesday, June 20, 2007



He wonders if anyone is a voyeur hidden inn the forest watching him. He’s sitting on a rocky ledge which erects out of the side of the mountain, in poor imitation of an old man’s excitement at the sight of a young woman.


Another page is carefully pulled from the art book. His eyes examine the image. Vermeer. Both hands set to work bisecting the image and a tear. Place the broken image front to front and stretch the paper edges until they too part with a scritch. The half-parted woman becomes four. Again and again in mathematical precision, an infinite series until the pieces are too small or the paper wads too thick to divide once more. At that point the incantation “Images” rumbles from his mouth and a priestly gesture looses the pieces to fall- artistic confetti. Tiny pieces of an artist- gone. One piece is caught by the wind and rises momentarily before a down draft snags it too -lost.

The sunlight reflects from the nape of his neck as he extracts another page for his ritual of artistic demise. Yesterday he did the same with a few ancient recording. Beethoven Sonatas never tinkled so dainty on the leaves and branches below. The day before that he spent an hour with his own words, hieroglyphed to pages with pen and ink. Nothing could make sense of his words after he chewed them and spat them over the side. They never sounded so grand.

“Images!” This time it is a Monet tossed to the wind and he stops. He listens. A hawk whistles. His laugh is a miserable echo of the sound of nature and he holds his belly paunch to maintain his balance on the warm rock. In his youth he tossed empty wine bottles into the green shroud below. He drank art and waited. Now he tosses art and waits once more. Through it all this mountain has done nothing.

“Eliot said that in the mountains your are free. Bullshit. In the mountains you’ve got no choice. You don’t have to look at yourself. You are everywhere. Damn it you can’t get away from yourself. Hell of a life.”

The warm sun on his back feels good. His muscles have aged but he’ll never admit it. The breeze cools a bit of sweat to remind him that climbing isn’t what it used to be. Did he really run up this mountain in the winter moonlight? He was a fool. Nothing has changed. That moment when myth and reality became confused happened long ago. I am you and you are me and we are all.. who doesn't know the lyrics from that time?

Friends lie below. Damn. Now some really lie below. A few have died. He missed the moment of their passing and only heard rumors after the fact. They didn’t miss him. Why should he miss them? Those friends were just there and then gone. He can’t even remember the clothes they were wearing or the smiles on their faces. Those faces frozen under the ice of stretched time and shadowy like the swirl of cloudy light under pond ice on a cold February day. His memory is more murky each day as his mind numbs.

He tries to remember even a woman. Damn you’d think he could remember one woman like yesterday. He touched her. He kissed her. He smelled her. He listened to her laugh. He looks down into the green valley of oak trees and maple trees and can’t distinguish one tree from the other. He can’t focus one detail of one special woman. What color was her hair? Brown? Maybe, but what shade of brown? How was the hair cut? What was the face like that the hair framed? He can’t even pull those details back. Her nose? Her mouth? Her tongue? Her ears? It’s his curse.

No wonder men say that the scent of a woman is like the smell of the ocean. It is a safe image. An image that is left open for others’ interpretation. The breeze tickles his nose. For just a second he thinks he smells her but then isn’t sure. Perhaps that was someone else.

The heel of his boot pounds the rock. It’s a dull sound that only he hears. What of the deep vibration? If someone invented a sensitive machine they could hear his boot fall on the other side of the world but they don’t. We haven’t invented machines that sense the passing of foot. No one care to hear the steady march. It would become a jumbled stew of muddled quaking.

Down below there is a discordant sound. Someone else is climbing this mountain. After all there is a trail leading up from a parking lot. There was no parking lot thirty years ago. There wasn’t even a trail. It was just a hard scramble over rocks and dead fall trees. Only academic lemmings raced upward toward the sun. Now anyone with a few moments can climb up and take pictures. “This is a good one for the album.”