Late for the Sky


journal page – 10/18/08

October is the month of small migrations, when the air moves with restless, nervous energy.  The wind picks up, sending down a tumbling shower of ochre, carnelian, and diarylide yellow that collects on the ground like a richly-woven Persian carpet.  The sky, now broader through the thinning canopy, changes face hourly; misty in the morning, baby blue with streaks of clouds by midday, searing acid blue in the afternoon, pink-tinged charcoal near evening. Even on still days, some leaves (they know it’s time) let go and drift earthward on gentle currents.


Grackles in great noisy flocks populate the land beneath the trees, conversing loudly with one another as they pick berries and seeds from among the leaves.  Suddenly spooked by a movement,  they rise in a flapping cacophony of screeches into the trees and wait warily as I pass along the path, silhouetted against the sky like black-cloaked beadles.  Geese move overhead in v-formations and sparrow flocks dance through the air in brown waves before landing in a line along a wire.  Clinging and falling, noise and silence, movement and waiting, formation and breaking rank…  


The ancient maple behind the house creaks in the breeze as if to say… you want to stay, but it’s time to go.


I see my own soul in Nature, every day, every season.

How long have I been sleeping

How long have I been drifting alone through the night

How long have I been running for that morning flight

Through the whispered promises and the changing light

Of the bed where we both lie

Late for the sky


Jackson Browne


The 8″ x 10″ journal page above – which is part of a special Autumn book I’ve been working on – was done with oil paint-sticks and acrylics. The background contains some collage elements and the nature printing technique I recently learned in a workshop with my friend Lenna Andrews.

Passing the Day

passing01  Peony silks,
	 in wax-light:
		 that petal-sheen,

  gold or apricot or rose
	 candled into-
		 what to call it,

  lumina, aurora, aureole?
	About gowns,
		the Old Masters,

passing02  were they ever wrong?
	This penitent Magdalen's
		wrapped in a yellow

  so voluptuous
	she seems to wear
		all she's renounced;

  this boy angel
	isn't touching the ground,
		but his billow

  of yardage refers
	not to heaven
		but to pleasure's

textures, the tactile
	sheers and voiles
		and tulles

which weren't made
	to adorn the soul.
		Eternity's plainly nude;

passing03 the naked here and now
      longs for a little
         dressing up. And though
they seem to prefer
	the invisible, every saint
		in the gallery

  flaunts an improbable
	tumble of drapery,
		a nearly audible liquidity

  (bright brass embroidery,
	satin's violin-sheen)
		raveled around the body's
 plain prose; exquisite
	(dis?)guises; poetry,
		music, clothes.

Nothing needs to be this lavish.
	Even the words I'd choose
		for these leaves;

intricate, stippled, foxed,
	tortoise, mottled, splotched
		-jeweled adjectives    

passing04 for a forest by Fabergé,
      all cloisonné and enamel,
         a yellow grove golden
 in its gleaming couture,
      brass buttons
          tumbling to the floor.
  Who's it for?
      Who's the audience
           for this bravura?
 Maybe the world's
      just trompe l'oeil,
	    appearances laid out

  to dazzle the eye;
	who could see through this
		to any world beyond forms?

passing05 Maybe the costume's
      the whole show,
         all of revelation
 we'll be offered.
      So? Show me what's not
         a world of appearances.
 Autumn's a grand old drag
      in torched and tumbled chiffon
         striking her weary pose.

Talk about your mellow
      fruitfulness! Smoky alto,
         thou hast thy music,

 too; unforgettable,
      those October damasks,
         the dazzling kimono
 worn, dishabille,
      uncountable curtain calls
         in these footlights'

dusky, flattering rose.
     The world's made fabulous
         by fabulous clothes.
Couture – Mark Doty (1953 – )
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