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LITERATURE» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
MUSIC» The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
MUSIC» Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
Hues decorate the surface with swirls, lines, and delicate blending, revealing an image. It is a fine painting; a surreal landscape of wheat, softly swaying in the visible wind. I stand up close to it. The image on a whole loosens in form and becomes no more than brushstrokes, smears of paint on a rugged surface of canvass. I can see how the artist moved his hand across the plane, laying down color, decorating it in erratic movements. But from this distance the painting has no more disposition than creamy wisps of paint. I see the basic elements of it and almost slip between the strokes. I raise my hands to the surface, flatten my palms as if to smooth out the rough blobs of paint that rise like tiny mountains. But I do not touch. I stand there in the empty hall, my hands raised to the wall like a captured criminal. I feel pitiful. With every ounce of my being I want to leap into the painting. It is beautiful in there; squiggles and tiny arcs, a spurt of canary yellow, a smear of vermilion blending perfectly with umber. Could I be reduced to a two-dimensional form created only by horse-hair bristles delivering pigment to a canvass? Could I justify my existence being no more than a shape of colors? I look down at my body and I notice that I am formed of tiny pieces of color. I am a composed by an artists palate. I am hues put together to make an image.
I hear the guard's voice from the side of the hall. He is telling me with an angry voice not to touch the paintings. He does not need to be insulting but is. I lower my hands and step noisily down the hardwood corridor as no more than color.
I stop in front of a statue. It is carved from marble and is pure white. It is a man twisting at the waist raising his arms to the sky. On his face is a look of painful supplication, as if he is asking the heavens "Why?" I look at the card that has the title of the piece. It reads: "The Trials Of Job." I circle the statue. It stands on a two-foot tall block of painted wood in the middle of the corridor. The statue is carved in such a way that one can get a interesting view no matter from which direction he looks. I study the man's hair. It seems to be in motion. It looks like I could run my fingers through it. It is fine uncombed white hair. I circle around another 45 degrees and study the man's twisted chest. It is a muscular chest. I can almost see the fibers of the muscles tighten under the skin, the veins pulse with blood. I slowly walk the rest of the way around the statue and look at the face of Job. His brow is folded at the center, his eyes full of expression. His mouth lies agape. I feel Job's pain.
I raise my hands up to the head of the statue and without touching it I follow the contours down. The curves are smooth, finely hewn. Even the laces on the sandals are described. I stop, raise my fingers to the sky, and plead, "Why?" Motionless we stand there, Job and me. I am carved from marble, my veins pulsing, my fibers tightening, solid. The strands of my hair were chipped from a single block of stone created to look like someone could run their fingers through it. I no longer exist in the world of the living, I am a statue of pure white. I will remain standing here forever, locked in supplication, at the permanent employment of my sculptor. We are brothers, Job and I. Me, Job's living doppelganger, and Job, my hardened duplicate. A tear forms and runs down my stone cheek.
A couple walks by and looks at me strangely. They see our couplet, Job's and mine, and must think me strange. I cannot take their condemning glances and become alive again. I lower my hands and shuffle down the hardwood corridor. My footfalls echo through the quiet space.
I stop under a iron mobile and look up at it. It is a curious display of convoluted metal ribbons each hanging from the one above it. It is pure balance. At the end of each of these ribbons hang a wrought bird all in various stages of flight. Despite their heavy iron makeup they have a weightless quality about them. There are fifteen or so of these birds hanging at the ends of the metal ribbons of the mobile. It is hard to understand how the mobile maintains its symmetry of balance, as the ribbons seem to glance out in unsuspected directions. And the birds seem to be of copious weight. The whole thing seems ready to fall to pieces but it hangs, elegantly, defying gravity. A breeze from nowhere catches the mobile and the birds take flight. They are seagulls, macaws, albatrosses, pelicans, herons, eagles. I can hear them squawking, calling for me to join them in their aerial acrobatics.
As I look up from directly beneath the mobile, the ribbons twist like a Maypole. The birds dance with giddy delight at the ends. Looking up, I stretch out my arms and spin around in a circle. The metal above seems to smear and the walls turn to blur at the corners of my eyes. I spin and spin. The birds are calling to me and I take flight. The birds spin around me in tornado fashion, chirping and squawking, joyously habituating my aerial environment. We are together, strapped to one another by iron ribbon, hanging, bobbing, spinning around, enjoying our non-gravity setting.
On the ground my feet shuffle loudly. The guard yells for me to stop playing. Sadly, I land again and the ribbons and the birds become nothing but iron hanging from the ceiling. Dizzy, I make my way to the exit of the museum. At the door, I stop and look back. I can see the painting of the surreal wheat field, the statue of Job, the mobile with the birds and I realize that they are just art. I can never be a part of them because they are art and I am flesh and blood. With a sigh, I turn and walk out the door into bright sunshine. The buildings are flat and two-dimensional today.
Nico Crisafulli is a former Associate Editor at BORN magazine and a graduate of the University of Washington's English Literature program. He has contributed works of short fiction and poetry to LAS, BORN, and other publications. In 1999 Sol Magazine awarded him a $1.00 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. SEE ALSO: www.myspace.com/elementalair
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