Last night we celebrated the end of my FOURTH year in the obelisk.
Today, my head is crossed and quartered call it a head-ache. Too much elder-flower wine. Sambucas Canadensis have you tried it? It’s one of the flowers the black swan brings and a batch I began when I first moved here was uncorked yesterday.
I have a head-ache, today, which is Imbolc, the cross-quarter day. Imbolc means: we’re half-way to the equinox!
Is it a coincidence that I moved into the obelisk on a cross-quarter day?
Yes. It was only a coincedence that I moved into the obelisk half way between solstice and equinox.
But is the coincidence meaningless?
I decide it is not meaningless. I thank my inside-self who was, it seems, attuned to the turning earth, though conscious odalisque had no idea. I have grown wiser in four years and when things coincide, choose to honor them.
It was right about now, half-way between the longest night and some kind of light/dark balance, that I got the bright idea to move into an obsidian tower. I saw it, as I stood on the shore, far across the salt-marsh.
My pagan ancestors celebrated with Imbolc the maiden. So do I, sequestered here in black grounded stone, whole unto myself.
Here is one of my favorite scrapbook portraits EVER, of me celebrating my inner maiden:This new year, rather than list my favorite posts of the past (I like this one and this one and this dream song but Owl complained that I didn’t make enough scrapbook pages here.) I thought I’d stick in some of the scrapbook pages I never finished. Something to look forward to in the coming year? Will I manage to contextualize and complete them?
I have a long night ahead. You do, too, if you live north of the equator.
I haven’t always lived north of the equator. At one time, I lived in a painting which means outside of time. I left all that for my new life in an oddly-conceived obelisk sticking irrationally out of a marsh by the shore. My life may be odd but it is not a work of art. It’s not timeless. I have to live through long long nights. Too bad I didn’t wash up near the equator. Just think of the birds I’d have had as friends!
Stop it, Odalisque! Stop thinking about what never was. How easily I fall into fantasy to avoid now. NOW is the dawn (?) of the LONGEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR. No, the CUSP of the longest night of the year. The crepuscular CUSP.
How will you make it through?
I think I will observe my shadow.
If I sit still in the dark it will not be cast, and I can better observe it.
<Black Swan would like me to explain why Black Swan does not cast a white shadow.>
<I say ‘Perhaps your soul shadow is white. Your soul shadow is not the shadow you see on the wall.”>
<Black swan blinks, uncomprehending. Black Swan’s shadow is still black on the wall.>
<About swan brains: They don’t understand that one word means can signify multiple things, especially if one of those things is conceptual.>
I didn’t have much of a shadow when I was art. I was painted to be luminous in a murky dark. If I had a shadow it vanished into the background.
It occurs to me that when I was a work of art I was the light casting someone else’s shadow.
I am very fortunate that my obelisk is well-lit. I have a shadow and it changes size. I will see my shadow again in the morning, when my window is passage for the first rays of dawn.
Stop Odalisque! Stop thinking ahead. First, I must get through tonight.
Maybe a stew of bitter roots and powders. Sun powders: paprika, tumeric, cayenne, saffron, the colors of heat and warmth ground fine and digestible, enlivening to blood. Or, foods rich in iron, as if this night is a furnace in which swords and anvils are forged. Or, tubers of Helianthus: all summer that plant grew high in the marsh, well over my head. Whatever sustained stems, leaves, pods, the root has sucked dry and stored, earth-white-crisp, inside. Let transubstantiation feed shadow tonight.
Drink red wine from a quartz cup.
Beat taut skins of drums or thighs with the palms of hands.
Cover yourself in cloth that catches the littlest light.
Or don’t, and let your eyes sparkle.
If the sun were a king and not a star, if you thought the earth was flat and the sky a dome, tonight the king would almost die.
The king is not dying. Unless the king is like a shadow: conceptual. My bringer-of-light.
Do not let your sun king die.
It is a long night. The sun is not dying, (at least, not on a human scale). The earth is just moving like earth-mass moves in a sun-scale gravitational field. Starlings move like starlings in the twilight sky. Grasses move like dry grasses in night-fall winds.
The king does not die. Neither does the shadow. Both will be weak for months now, but come spring, the earth will be pummelled by roots into abundance, solar powered.
Merry darkness. Happy soon-to-be dawn.
I did not make an equinox page. Did you miss it?
Here we are again. Dark days. I mean nights. I mean LONG nights.
They are coming.
Maybe I should move closer to the equator so I don’t have to go through this every year. Otherwise, I’ll have to go back to being an unravished bride of happiness, i.e., art. Oh happy happy art! Music unheard is sweetest and in truth, beauty such as an odalisque’s may be eternally still, fading century-by-century to fall at last in entropic decay.
You may have noticed I don’t make so many scrapbook pages anymore. At first it was so exciting to be out and about in my own obelisk. But everything passes so fast. Like starlings sweeping the sky time is, a hypnotist, and I, Odalisque, am hypnotized, with a soft focus dream-floating in all the flux. Why stamp myself upon this flux of time? Why afix myself to the pseudo-permanent? Why art?
I miss crow. Parrot-that-is-crow doesn’t talk anymore, doesn’t ask me where I’m going. It’s obvious to all us birds that TIME is what’s going. It’s a sensation, round and round. Parrot is plucking her own feathers. Maybe beneath all that caricature will step my black crow.
Crow would know how to party in this mad, strung-out scene. We’re all exhausted and too paranoid to get out o <f/i>n time.
ODALISQUE IS STUPID.
YOU HAVE SOMEWHERE OR WHO TO BE
My face is like the moon /the night grows long /long reign of moon.
Don’t moon about. Wane. So you can see the stars.
Here we go again.
It never stops does it.
August, die she must, minute by minute. The hour, in July, appointed for tea now lingers too late for dinner to be prepared before dark. Rush I must to get myself fed without burning some light. Like most of my birds, I prefer to be active in sunlight; as the days shorten I slowly become overwhelmed by routines and chores, my working hours constricted. Imagine how most birds feel–fewer minutes each day in which to find their requisite calories.
I say “most” because though Hawk’s hunting days are waning, Owl’s are on the rise. Owl looks forward to the equinox when time-dominion tilts in favor of Owl. Owl pities Hawk, who had hunting good when the weather was gentle and pleasant. When hunting is hard, and most necessary, Owl has time. Hawk shrugs. Always, somehow, Hawk, also, stays alive.
In Owl-time I will have to attune myself to other productivities, the less active and quickly satisfying. The obelisk will be grimier but in dark Winter I’ll hardly be able to tell. As long as I can keep the window clean, to let what light there is in. I’ll remember how to attune to other chores, tasks of the mind cupping itsself around a dim candle, confronting cold space, recalling how to preserve, a word which looks an awful lot like “persevere”. I will remember how to persevere.
Why do I worry for winter? Now is summer, late summer, to be sure, but the flowers all blowsy, gold, purple and white, the colors of royalty. August is an august time, leonine. Nature, regally bedecked, processes nobly towards decline.
These days are pleasure-full.
I just paused to appreciate that fact–NOW is pleasure-FULL–and bright crow-who-is-parrot (I’m so sick of parrot, repeating himself), landed on the sill, dropping a red feather.
I like collecting the birds’ feathers. I pick it up.
Parrot-who-is-Crow brought me a leaf.
The first autumn leaf.
I made a grid and titled it THE SHADOW UNIVERSE AND OTHER MARVELS. The rows and columns are labeled with shades of black. There is a storm blowing about, strewing fury and frustration.
Outer-space is where an odalisque escapes (read odalisques in space if you’re curious about that), but universal is all. The witching hour is the hour in which things are made. Look at a clock whose hands are stuck how they stutter stutter at what-o-clock don’t panic. Kill the clock. Clip the coil, pull the plug, flip out the cylindrical case for reactive chemicals, all toxicity (cadmium, mercury, lead), these mechanisms that have the power to drive hands.
When you’ve incapacitated the clocks, give your hands their work. Soon the birds will whistle, churtle, stir. Black becomes grey becomes white, even blue.
Clouds will pass. Sun time is gentler, more subtle, than numbered dials.
space: absence [storm at sea]
universal: constant connection (expected to listen passively)
space: you describe the world
universal: stop. lost. [clouds]
space: i should be right now [black iron fence or gate?]
universal: I am reclaiming. The writer always triumphs.
the writer always triumphs. I am betrothed to the stars. each pierces me like a pin. identify me for future generations: Saint Sebastian, beloved of art.
so silent odalisque. long empty pie pieces sliced by solar time: solstice to equinox to solstice to equinox. a big sun-cross with silent sweeps in between. every circle is a year.
this silent sweep is avril, the cruelest month, eliot said. plants don’t want to be buried they pull themselves, pale, embryonic un-dead, out of the earth. marsh goes from gold to green again, the water is not summer blue or winter black but a sheeny-silver murk, faintly pink. my room is cold then perfect perfect warm then hot then cold again in just one day as the sun slips in and out of window frame. birds build nests of straw and trash. i leave shreds of scrapbook paper on the sill for them to take. scrapbook shreds pad nests.
now is not a time i want to eat eggs.
i want to eat…green shoots as they curl out of the ground. big bowls, before they toughen too much in the sun. how crisp and fresh these young sprouts. they snap between teeth, taste of minerals, essence of dirt firmed in cellulose and sweetened with chemystred light . radish asparagus lotus root fiddle-head fern. young and crisply fibrous.
i am no spring sprout. i am a fruit not yet fermented to wine, but late-season, heavy and odorous.
i plump myself on fresh spring greens. the birds pile them on the sill. maybe in exchange for the nesting material, or maybe just because they like to feed me. because they care.
I work at a desk, taking scissors to centuries of imagery and pencils to pulped trunks of trees, to assemble in my scrapbook a story I am making from my life.
It was Owl’s idea to post my scrapbook in the world wide web. Is my scrapbook a carcass cocooned? Do I mildly festoon the near-invisible trap of an arachnoid collective consciousness?
Hawk scoffingly says the only world-wide-web is an opulent cosmic cloth in which I, not my scrapbook, am one of an infinitude of jewels, each reflecting every other jewel.
Owl asks what kind of jewel cat videos are.
I think Owl is being a wise guy.
Black Swan is right now two-stepping anxiously and flapping a wing. Black Swan wants you to know that CATS ARE EVIL. CATS WOULD TEAR NOBLE HEADS FROM LONG, LOVELY SWAN NECKS IN IDLE SPORT. Black swan shivers.
I don’t have a cat.
What I wanted to share today is some of the word searches which have directed people to my scrapbook. Owl brought it to me:
- recursion girl
- overwhelm falling on them
- do odalisques still exist
- love images of i will be no more
- how to make a crumple tree
- converse teapot
- sharp handwriting
- gloomy poetries
- surrealistic crow
- near ocean crypt
- drowning in the sea
- fashionable owls
- sea woman portrait
- picture of the word overwhelm
- fantasy fashion doesnt know how to fashion
- night light princess
- deconstructing feminist art
I love this list.
Do odalisques still exist? Yes, recursively, in a converse relationship with our teapots. How do you make a crumple tree?: picture the world overwhelm. I will be no more a love image. I’m a night light princess in an ocean crypt. I found myself a fashionable owl, a surrealistic crow (and some other winged friends), perfected the sharpness of my handwriting deconstructing gloomy poetry, and drowned, am drowning, in what wild and lovely sea?
I exist I exist I exist.
I am real.
Summer is here!
All winter I imagined days so long long long I would have nothing left to do by the end of them but wait, far into the evening, for the light to finally fade.
All winter I imagined today.
Let’s stir up some spirits; spirits of evergreens, angelica, ice. Blesséd spirits cool the hot temples. Phoenix fire will lure the fire-flies to the obelisk; I look forward to the show. Black Swan is undoubtedly bringing me a beak-full of beebalm, little red firecrackers just for me. Hawk is hoping to celebrate the solstice with a squirrel. Well, not exactly “with”: the squirrel won’t be celebrating. Hawk promises me the tail–I am supposed to wear it somehow. I don’t want a squirrel tail but Hawk doesn’t listen.
Owl, who knows everything I think and feel, promises to swallow the tail when Hawk, drowsy full with squirrel not-tail, falls asleep.
Owl, oh owl, the-one-who-fills-in. Owl dreams of newborn spring rabbits, velvety soft sausages wriggling through an Owl esophagus.
Dinner can be pretty disgusting around here. It’s not my fault: I only eat art, mostly painted by dutch masters. Very civilized I am, dining nightly on lustrous silver, pewter and crystal.
Black Swan floats upon the table, neatly munching duckweed.
But tonight! Beyond spirits, a fast. I will break-fast tomorrow, perhaps on a Manet bun.
Yes. I will have a Manet bun.
I can make tea from the beebalm leaves, without disturbing the flowers.
They are a favorite flower.
The days only get shorter from here but let’s not think about that now. It will be warm for some time yet.
Happy Summer Solstice!
PS: Crow is hopefully being crow, not parrot, off performing his own rituals. Crow-as-crow, upon a heap of stones.
The starlings are raising their nestlings. Lots of little mouths practically an insecticide fumigating the marsh.
ODALISQUE HAS BEEN SILENT VERY SILENT.
I HOPE YOU STILL THINK OF HER NOW AND AGAIN. NO. THINK OF HER MORE THAN THAT, PLEASE. THINK OF HER NOW. AND NOW. AND NOW. AGAIN.
I WILL WRITE SOMETHING TO TELL YOU HOW IT IS SINCE SHE WON’T MAKE A SCRAPBOOK PAGE. I WILL TRY TO SAY IT SO YOU WILL UNDERSTAND O YOU OUT-THERE.
coffee house you sit /imagine/ with blank paper and pen
listen music streams from responsive algorithms
listen there are conversations at tables with all chairs empty but one
talk talk about marketing /cause app art jeans/ marketing is a way to talk about money that sounds like sharing or making friends
listen gnat clouds of attention ghosting the nether-now of elsewhere and who
mesmerizing all the fingers on hand-held palm stones, light glass leaves. swift fingers single shuttle a miniature loom weave /bandage veil fate/
or idly scroll as if skimming skin of a dull but distracting lover, heart battery in cellophane sleeve sealed with mildly-toxic adhesive
re pe ti tive /pause/
fresh faces bathed in lightpalm glow as if looking down into unempty hands equals looking up at face of
dawn as if sky is
look up blank page
here is the future
it is very productive
what do you say
odalisque do you have anything to say
to the future
I don’t have anything to say to the past. The past was no good for an odalisque. Kindness. Gentleness. All anyone needs.
In this place you describe my unbelonging is fantastic.
I don’t know what to say to anybody anywhere. I don’t know what to offer that is worth the time my offering would require for its meaning to become apparent.
Maybe I should be somewhere else right now.
But I am always here
I don’t know what to do.
Something else is not happening. Elsewhere now was home.
the ice has melted, unchaining the cold.
do you think I don’t care? The dictionary inelegantly defines vortex as “a mass of spinning air, liquid, etc., that pulls things into its center”. it is good to be centered, but not when that center is supposed to be your north pole.
in the summer, the poles will miss this cold, and the ice will melt more than it ought too, exposing corpses, campsites, fossils of people who lived there thousands of years ago. they will decompose before we learn anything from them. they lived in the climate we soon inherit. who died and left it to us? a miniscule planet’s ecosystem, exhausted by our habitation.
so much sadness. salt waters rise.
do you think i want this? i wanted to throw open the window and throw a dazzling balcony smile at a sparkling sea. but i got hit in the teeth with cold like the sea threw up a handful of ice (or was it you, did you do this to me?). I am sitting on the middle of the earth under a lopsided arctic wind and I don’t have the right clothes.
crow/parrot and phoenix are conducting experiments. crow is flash-freezing eggs on a branch outside, then phoenix slowly heats them on the stone sill. owl tells me this is the latest in culinary technology. that’s interesting but will it be ready for teatime?
maybe I’ll burn myself some fossil fuels. put the teapot on the fire and crawl inside.
i’m so cold i think i can feel the heat reflected off the moon.
- June 2016
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