Today I have something a little different for you. Usually when I post my writing, I post poems, but this time I’m going to show you guys four of my sketches. Not as in light pencil drawings, but as in small scenes from my life written as a cross between a long poem and a short story. I really like writing sketches, but I’ve never posted them before, so I’d love to hear your thoughts! (Heh, but when wouldn’t I? 😛 )
I think asking comment questions at the end of writing posts because it’s kind of… jarring, like hearing a loud, fast song after a gentle, slow one. If that makes sense. So after you finish reading… what was your favorite sketch, and do you prefer sketches or poems?
And NOW, here are the stories, collected from several months’ writing. OH WAIT. The last sketch refers to a sketch and a poem which I have not yet posted but hopefully will later, just so you know. 🙂 OKAY WE’RE READY. Ahem.
Music poured from the speakers, rubbed its backbone under our seats, seeped out the cracks in the doors, and flowed into the fog. The hills dipped and rose but the road clung on, sucked tightly to the bare back of a wild, bucking horse yet riding with serenity and poise. We whipped through shreds of blue mist and heavy banks of dull white fog, past pole lights with blurry halos and headlights diffused into the night, climbing like tiny insects the damp, sweating back of the tall, tall road.
The fog sat heavier and heavier as we headed into the heart of nothing. It wrapped the dark asphalt in a light, gauzy quilt. Like insects, we slowed down but slipped through the holes and pushed on. We were on a tiny island of visibility that moved with us down the current; all behind was lost, all that remained was ahead. We came upon three yellow rectangles glowing feebly through the mist, and we were home.
I stepped out knee-deep in magic. The ordinary house rose mysteriously from the fog, and that was all there was. The cars, the house, and me. Everything else was erased and blank paper surrounded me.
The back deck floated like a raft in an albino sea. I stood with open eyes and a closed mouth, surrounded by waves of fog, detached from the world. Nothing was the same. It felt unreal and at the same time like perhaps it was the really real after all, like perhaps the ordinary life was just a flat, painted curtain and tonight it was left open and I waded deep into the ocean when before I had thought the shallows too far to reach.
The fog blinded me so the colors of the sounds stood out richly on the plain white canvas. The frogs sung an infinite looping refrain. The wavering voice of a whippoorwill called tremulously, hauntingly, uncertainly through the cloud. An owl replied with soft, deep strength in its voice, a voice muffled and floating through the fog in silent majesty on silken feathers. A half moon glowed like a lone headlight. All the music poured into the fog. I rode the white waves solidly, calmly. I was but a tiny insect in a wide world of fog. And then I turned back, breathless, and closed the door.
birds & balloons
Feet shuffle; pages ruffle; the congregation stands.
A few strong notes stream into silence. The hymn begins, bearing the venerable weight of truth and years upon the back of every word.
The letters march flatly along the printed page, but we drink them up with our eyes and breath life into them with our throats, inflating dull balloons into bobbing color.
The piano nips each note with ivory teeth and blows them quickly through its wire lungs to make them fly through the air, a row of birds on a telephone line startled into flight.
We catch the balloons by the strings and the birds by their wings and weave them together so that they lift us off the ground, higher and higher as the sounds on our palette blend to create new shades, new tones, new beauty.
Our voices build onto the shifting but solid bedrock of the piano’s notes – a deep, rich soil of bass, a steady green line of alto trees, and a sparkling blue soprano sky. Each voice adds a new thread to the embroidered landscape until you can no longer hear the individual stitches but only the thrillingly beautiful fabric of song.
And then the piano stops. The rock crumbles beneath us. But we do not fall, for we have found our wings. We sing on, stronger than before. Soaring. We rise joyfully, our voices bearing one another up in a delicate, swirling stream, flying high and heading higher, ever toward the brilliant light of the Son.
a giant falls
The humid air is heavy with the smell of torn, muddy earth and rotting wood and wet leaves.
A chain rattles with cold metallic clamor over rutted bark, but the tree waits in silence – an ancient giant whose hoary head is crowned with silvered leaves, bearded with patched lichen, tied with furred vines.
A chainsaw claws apart the hush with angry roars and bites eagerly into the thick wood with ravenous teeth. We watch warily. A butterfly flutters restlessly from place to place; an airplane drones through streaks of cloud; crickets chatter nervously. The leaves hang limp and quiet and calm.
The greedy mouth has chewed a circle now around its first wedge-shaped bite. Hunger eased at last, it sputters to sleep. A tall metal arm finishes its destruction, leans hard into the giant’s side and nudges it awake. The tree gives a loud, cracking cough as its heart rends. It leans slowly forward, its crown of leaves shuddering with dread. The giant utters a last, deep groan of realization and then it plummets as if in slow motion, down and down and down, heavily to the earth with the sound of breaking thunder. The leaves give one last despairing leap upwards as the tree’s arms shatter, and then – dead silence.
Cautiously we approach the felled Goliath. The splintered wood inside looks like dry, white meat: enough to feed a whole world of chainsaws and paper mills. But the giant’s heart is black and hollow, broken long ago by a stroke of lightning, and all this time it has been waiting to end the storm with its last roar of thunder. The storm is over, now. The air smells damp and bitter. The giant lays silent, and the leaves tremble no more.
A lovely evening. It is warm outside, warm as a summer’s evening… remember? I walk outside and the frogs are singing. Remember? Their call of push-pull echoes in the air. You know.
I don’t need shoes; the freedom feels good to my feet. We drive to the shop where Dad is working on my car – a successful plastic surgery almost complete, music blasting from inside the unconscious patient. Headlight eyes that were once cloudy are bright and shining now, the old yellowed ones cast aside on the floor.
Riding a bike without shoes tickles your soles and delights your soul. I glide across the dusty concrete and weave past bits of wood, past gravels taking shelter under the roof, past cardboard boxes full of parts for the unfinished body of the building. How is the car coming? Lay the bicycle down carefully, now, the kickstand doesn’t work.
The hood is up and all its insides are exposed to the outside. What is this called? And this? I know this one. Dad and Logan teach me the anatomy of an engine. I check the oil and stare into the bright headlight eyes. A handprint is smudged across the car’s shining blue face.
Can you teach us how to change a tire sometime? Tonight? Well, why not. We gather around to see a small jack lift the small car haltingly on its small back. Off goes the hubcap and here are the nuts and bolts of it. Slowly they loosen; the wheel is free. Put it back now, screw them back, now, push it back, now, and now you know. I put a board in the trunk, for safety and for later. Would want the jack to sink into the ground next time and get its feet muddy.
Now it’s time to work, everyone. The point of the arrow is below E, but the fountain is empty and there is nothing that will quench its thirst. I drive on. Preserved voices float from the speaker; I flick a switch and silence them.
The grass feels soft and cool under my feet. The blades whisper as I pass them over. There’s the trailer, waiting for us. Out go a few boxes heavy with slate, almost bursting their cardboard constraints. A weak green light flickers to life and paints our faces a sickly shade. We hurry out into the dimmer, clearer light of the moon.
Step inside, here, watch these boxes. Don’t let them fall while we clatter along to the basement door. We emerge in the moonlight again and bear away the other boxes. Kindred cardboard, all named j a r s are stacked in a pile – jars in crinkly, whispering wrappers, gray-white and dusty pink. You remember. Boards upon boards, cardboard near cardboard, and the job is done.
We’re done. I’m going now. Walking barefoot on the cool, soft lawn, under a filmy moonlit sky filled with but a few stars strong enough to pierce the veil of clouds. Walking through the sweet, fresh smell of new-mown grass and the everlasting choir of frogs and the twisted black arms of trees frozen in applause. Walking to more music waiting in the car, driving with the window down so spring can crawl into the passenger seat. Bare feet on the gas pedal, tires crunching over gravel. The press of a button: the window climbs slowly. The turn of a key: only the frogs are left. The frogs and the moon and Orion peeking through the clouds and the soft, cool ground under bare feet. A dog barks. A door opens. Closes.