The wings were perfect, even moist, as if fresh from the cocoon—though this might simply have been the morning’s dampened breath, for they lay still… flightless. Their silken poetry, their symmetry in powdered color, belied the crippled juncture where death and antennae had collided, deforming sheer fragility into a chaos of legs and ochre pus. How had the wings survived so crushing an impact? He stood there, on the soft shoulder, staring (divination crucial), a wanderer—functionally mute—pausing, all alone, on an abandoned back road:

where wild grasses already reclaimed the asphalt’s fractures…
where traffic was as obsolete as footprints…
where time hovered like dragonflies...
where Simon contemplated the corpse of a hapless lepitopteron.

Perhaps it was the theme of aborted flight that drew his attention, an airborne potentialSwallowtail obliterated with one indelicate stroke. Or the grim allure of fatality, in its unfamiliar, fascinating guise. Or maybe his was a sentimental reverie, wherein beauty transcended things mortal—like love surmounting cynicism. Then again, it was just as likely—since the road was barren, ride prospects bleak, and the day long—that there was little better to do than look upon this mishap at his feet. Simon looked. Intricate capillaries that once throbbed, however imperceptibly, throbbed no more. He knelt. Placing his hands in the dirt on either side, he compared his flesh and tendon to the insect’s corpse; their difference, in his estimate, merely a heartbeat.

Sun-browned and prominently veined, Simon’s outstretched hands were masculine sculptures—the last two years having weathered rough patterns unique to the open road. Their strength and grace reflected, nevertheless, an androgynous quality—evident throughout the balance of his twenty-eight-year-old features. Not that his gender was questionable; his body simply reflected a certain duality—unsettling only by virtue of its being rare. Totally absorbed in this juxtaposition of hand to wing, wing to hand, he failed to notice the approach of a car (at lead-footed speed). He looked up just in time to wave a belated thumb in its indifferent wake. With the up-churned dust, resignation settled quietly into Simon’s lyric face; tears welled up to cleanse the grit away. Turning back, he resumed contemplation of the highway’s other casualty.

Two years… Two years of wayfaring had passed. The first, devoted to forgetfulness, he had labeled:Year of the Lotus

 

 

Year of the Lotus

The second, Year of the Dandelion (or child’s yellow rose), Year of the Dandelionhad been dedicated to seeing the world afresh, and had come to a close this very morning, leaving a subtle sign (now framed by equidistant hand prints). 

 

 

That speeding car had been only the second to pass since dawn. Simon wondered where he was… then entertained the notion of having somehow become invisible… except, late on the previous night, a woman had almost stopped. Almost. At least she hadn’t swerved while trying to lock the passenger-side door. How frightened most folks were—women, especially… but men, too. ‘Beware the terrible stranger, the hitchhiker—Bogeyman incarnate.’ Ah well, why be bitter? He alone was to blame for his cold bones and worn out mocassins. Besides, the early sun was like liniment penetrating Simon’s chilliness. But this butterfly, surrounded by his impressions… Was he to read its wings as a Seer interprets palms? There followed a strange ceremony.

Removing the sash belt from his waist, Simon arranged it on the ground in an ellipse, encircling the dead swallowtail. He then slipped off his backpack, and, setting it aside, unbuttoned his shirt—which he carefully spread below the sash, forming a crescent with its empty sleeves. Feet together, V-fashion, he stepped from his moccasins onto the shirt front. Next he untied his drawstring pants—which dropped around his ankles—and stepping out, bare naked, assumed a cross-legged posture, smack dab in the middle of this curious configuration. He sat like this, without moving, for a long, long while…


as desert smells arose
(the roadside weeds buff-dry and full of sneezes)…
as a dove sang plaintive songs
(in two-four time)…
as springs began to trickle from wherever skin touched skin
(behind his knees, along his ribcage, in the creases between his thighs)…
as colors darkened
(in the fabric underneath)…
as heat
(in translucent serpents)
rose to rouse the landscape�s salt-water memories:
ocotillos waving like plants on the ocean floor,
saguaros standing, massive-armed and incongruous
(alien irrespective their cactus-spine anatomies)…
till the moment came when temperatures of air and body matched…
and the sense of being in an environment transformed to being of it.

Odd, the way this sun has suddenly bleached the surrounding scenery,
definitions run like pigment on soggy parchment… blurred… displaced by a virgin white... growing ever more intense at the nigh horizon… brightening… ground beyond it sloughing off… reclaimed as by the sea… coming closer… Earth itself about to dematerialize—stop! I’ll fall!

A shudder ran through Simon, as if some inner tremor had rocked his very soul. The sun (quite high) sucked sweat from his pores, while shriveling the butterfly’s idle carcass, its mangled thorax detached from the undamaged wings—which Simon, ever so gently, plucked; first one, then the other, kissing both before placing each on either shoulder blade… where, soaking up perspiration, they adhered. Then, with the same slow care, he dressed… took up his pack… and walked on down the road.


Welcome year number three:
Year of the Poppy.

Year of the Poppy
Well I could hardly...

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