rock candy – part two

These heavy cathedrals of stone fall before me whenever I come to witness the blues melt into the golden shores and the ink spill across the molten sea. This hungry mouth tilts to swallow its treasure whole. I hear the random slap of waves below and watch these muscular cliffs tug and yank at this opulent rug. I stand where the scene slips away and know that all I could ever do was get close to what is far beyond me.

The Living Canopy

Once there was a great tree whose branches served as a canopy over the village and when it had leaves everyone worshipped its protection.  But it had lost its leaves after a long drought and was thought to be dead, so the villagers cut its branches whenever they needed them until the limbless trunk was left.  The village was naked under the blazing sun and they hated the tree for having died. After they got used to the heat, they forgot about the tree.

There was one villager, though, who never stopped watering the tree everyday.  Even when water was scarce, she shared whatever she had of her own supply. And when the rains came to end the drought, the great tree came back to life and regrew its heavy limbs but they only stretched over her house.  

The other villagers regretted calling her an imbecile for watering the tree when they had given up on it.  And they begged her to make it grow back over the rest of the village. And she told them that when she was a little girl she had a dream about the tree.  Its branches covered the entire sky, all the way to the farthest horizon. The leaves floated on high like clouds. But then the entire tree flattened before her into a surface without depth and revealed its timeless form. And she became a breathless stone beside it. Never did she feel such a bond reverberate between her and the tree. When she woke up, she felt the warm sensation of peace emanating from her stomach.

The villagers scratched their heads because they had never had such a dream nor felt such things but decided to worship the tree anyways, and though their faith wasn’t as strong as the dreamer, it was consistent now. And the great tree slowly forgave them by branching out to cover their village once again.

rock candy – part one

Let’s wander away to the Big Rock Candy Mountain!

One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fire was burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, "Boys, I'm not turning
I'm headed for a land that's far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we'll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains
-Harry McClintock, Big Rock Candy Mountain

Before digital photography, photographers were used to working with negatives in order to produce the desired print from the exposure. In digital photography, there is the label of a digital negative but that refers just to a type of file called RAW which is about retaining as much information as possible. Digital photographers might use the negative or inverse in some part of their process but it really has disappeared from the collective consciousness since we’ve lost most of our one hour photo shops (or home dark rooms as I grew up with). I’m not a luddite so any sentimentality I have for the old ways is quickly dashed by the fact that film was far more expensive and time consuming. It’s funny to see people now shooting on film as if it has magical properties. Surely, if we handed a digital camera from today to someone back in the 70’s, it would be seen as magic. In addition to the pleasure of looking at the world in any way our naked eyes cannot (which is the main purpose of photography in my opinion), I like the ironic feeling of making a negative as the final result from a digital file.

Swinging Wishes

Once there was a magical swing deep in the woods and whenever someone swung on it, one and only one wish was granted. 

A girl swung on it and wished that she were a beautiful princess and as the swing swung she found herself in a castle with everyone calling her their princess.  But she was immature and not ready for such a life. And when the king expected her to marry the ugliest man she had ever seen for some territory to add to his kingdom, she ran away and stumbled into a hard life of trading things for food and a place to sleep and she quickly got a burning illness and died wishing she had never been granted her wish in the first place.

A boy swung into his wish to become a hero.  And the boy found himself thrust into battle for which he was not ready.  The only thing he could think to do in the heat of battle was to throw himself in front of the king and he took an arrow to the heart and died a hero but lived such a short life without savoring any hard won accomplishment.

An old man swung into his wish to be young and healthy again.  And he went with other young people but they didn’t like him because he acted so old.  He went with older people and they didn’t like him either because he looked so young and it reminded them of what they had lost.  And when he witnessed his children pass away, his heart broke for he hadn’t thought of going through that when he made the wish and so he jumped off a cliff.

An old woman swung into her wish to be the most powerful king.  As king, she handed over her power to the queen and commanded the kingdom to obey the transfer of power.  And when the queen assumed the throne, she had the king executed so that he could not try to regain the power he lost.

A man swung into his wish to be the horse of his unrequited love.  He galloped when she requested. He trotted for her. He shook his handsome mane in her radiating presence.  he savored every brush stroke and when she gave him a little heel kick in his ribs he yearned to lick her beautiful toes.  Every sugar cube tasted like bliss as she gazed into his eyes. But when he couldn’t hold it back anymore and advanced on her in the barn, they had to put the crazed horse down.

And there was a woman whose mother always said to be careful what you wish for.  So she swung into her wish to not become anything she wasn’t prepared for. Her wish came too true.  Since she stuck to only what she was ready to do, she couldn’t progress or gain insight through the mistakes her wish forbade her from making.