Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Story of Art

Dedicated to Aparina


Sometimes words are hard to wrestle into place. They exist in a totally dark room with a black background. There are many hidden entrances and exits. Each word is printed clearly on its own separate card. The common words are haphazardly piled up on top of each other all over the floor. Bigger more complex words are attached to the walls. The transcendent words of mystery without simple definition look down on you from the ceiling. Each separate word glows as it is bathed in a shifting black light, the only light. I have to try and gather the right group of these slippery glowing words in the right order from this dark room to form the sentences to tell you something.

Sister Ana was my favorite companion. I would always stop in for communion when passing through her town. We had met years before when she was exploring Santeria, the Afro-Cuban abomination to the true Catholicism of her heritage. I had found her drugged and bedraggled, wrapped in saran wrap with a few colored balloons still clinging to the inside of this garment. At one point she had been a jar of jellybeans. I held and guided her through the throngs gathered to celebrate the pagan All Hallows Eve. I brought her safely home.

New Orleans was Sister Ana’s new home. We decided as usual on this visit to explore the city and spread the Only Way. It was an auspicious night. The season was upon us again. I wore my special 50’s style thin iridescent tie with my regular starched white shirt and dark dress slacks. Sister Ana wore her dark skirt and white blouse. She carried a hand carved colored orb I had made for her. Decoration as celebration is best when understated. Our leather bound Queen Harriet edition of the Ancient Book of Rules were in our hands with ribbons placed in the proper passages to be ready for the people we encountered.

The night was cool and the clouds hung low not quite sure if they should be fog. We walked the dark streets and talked excitedly about what this night might bring. As we walked the clouds became mist. Now far from home we began to think of shelter. The Convent was not far so we headed towards Rampart Street.

As we approached the iron gates in the arch leading into the Convent a light caught our eyes. Projected on the bare industrial wall of the building across the narrow road from the Convent was the haunting architecture of another building. The picture changed and a different building was imposed on the wall as if trying to make the plain building into something more grand than it was.

The gates were open and a large crowd was gathered inside the courtyard created by the wall and the two story brick buildings of the Convent. Large brick planter boxes filled with shrubs and small trees and built in benches help fill the large space. At one end a giant Live Oak, symbolic of this city, stood dead. A large stump that was not yet ready to give up its prominence in this garden.

The crowd pulled us in and up the stairs to a large entry room that connected to the balconies that overlooked the courtyard. An eerie green light filled the room. Highlighted at one end was a large table that held an entire tropical island complete with mountains, shore and tropical vegetation. Part of one slope of the island was missing and as we grew closer we could see people were dipping tiny surfboards into the landscape and eating chunks of this scene. Sister Ana insisted and we both ate from this strange buffet. What seemed like a chipped beef pate with a mild horseradish pineapple lawn both stung and tingled the tongue. We managed to grab a glass of punch before the crowd swelled and pushed us along the darkened corridors of the Abbey.

As we passed the open doors to the rooms along the hall a strange new scene appeared in every room. Some rooms we were pushed into and others past. This was not how our night had been foreseen. In one room a very large circular ottoman was the stage of a fine sensuous women dressed in nothing but sheer scarves that twirled about her as she danced. Bathed in a soft red light her tender nudity hypnotized us into reverence.

Constantly moved by this murmuring but gentle throng we came upon a room that was completely blue. The floor, walls, ceilings, even the sparse furniture was a vibrant periwinkle blue. The furniture was not as it should be. The stuffed lounge chair was attached to the wall and a side table at its feet on the floor. A floor lamp hung from the ceiling and a small chest of drawers was perched at an angle between the wall and floor. The only thing not this single color of blue was a large mirror that completely filled one doorway.

In another room a strong young man in his Calvin briefs was tethered from head to toe and staked firmly to the wooden floor. Dozens of thin white ropes accentuated by his smooth brown body coursed around his limbs and over his body. A platoon of mechanical toy soldiers marched in disarray around this captured giant.

The crowd which had been strong yet smiling and polite and had communicated in quiet hushed tones suddenly began to grow louder and more excited. I held on to Sister Ana and we were carried out of the building and into the courtyard.

It very rarely snows in New Orleans. The sky above the courtyard was filled with thick fat flakes falling gently to the ground. An event of this magnitude caused a major reaction in the crowd. Suddenly with the beat of a drum a pounding rhythmic music filled the courtyard and the crowd began to dance. The snow kept falling. The music’s tempo continued to climb as the falling snow increased in thickness. The strong young man released from bondage smiled in rapturous joy as he was caressed by the rhythm of sound and moving bodies. For what seemed like hours we danced with the music and the falling snow. It kept on as the snow was growing knee deep and dancing was getting difficult. Finally the snow began to ebb and the music slowed. The crowd thinned and we were released back onto the street outside.

We walked slowly getting our bearings, determining which way was home. I noticed I did not have my Ancient Book of Rules and automatically turned to go back to get it. When I turned looming over the Convent walls high into the sky, the dead Live Oak was encased in glistening white snow. I touched Ana’s shoulder and she turned to look. We paused to look at this sight and into each others eyes and then turned back and headed home. The ribboned rule book no longer seemed like the Only Way.

Ani still held the hand carved orb I had given her at the beginning of the night. Her Ancient Book of Rules was also gone. There was now a faint glow emanating from within the colored orb and we used its light to guide us home.

4 comments:

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Yes you may comment.

Marilynn M said...

I'm impressed. You have talent. I would read your book.

Anonymous said...

I always thought you were a woman.
--Miss Rumphius Rules

Christopher C. in Hawaii said...

Trying again. This comment did not seem to take yesterday.

Miss Rumphius you were not the only person under that impression.

An interesting question is why have I never been bothered by that and have found it entertaining and intriguing? Ah the mysteries of life.

ilima