She shows me her rectangular, black belly speckled with ivory dots, still behind the giant net glistening in the sun. Her spindly legs, painted with red streaks, hold fast to her embroidery. Suddenly her mouth comes to life, and she drops from top to bottom, rappelling on a single silvery thread. She attaches it to the bottom, scampers back to the top.
I’m not her prey, but I’m trapped. It’s the webs you see first.
The blue heron huddles by the shore, his regal neck stuffed into his puffed-out chest. The chill wind sweeps a tuft of feathers on his head into the air, flapping it about like a balding man’s combover. Dignity is no match for self-preservation.
Magnolia, David Bates, 1993
There’s a word for it: impasto. Paint so thick and chunky it can’t help but make a still life move. This magnolia, this white and green and brown magnolia ~ it doesn’t fade into the background. With strokes of such grand relief, it swirls out of two dimensions and right into my hands. I rub the waxy leaves, drink in the petals’ perfume.
A cool morning, the ice is thawing. Tiny red berries glisten in a cluster at the end of a branch like capsules of heat caught between seasons.
Our headlights cut through the fog, and the gray mist glows with yellow warmth. I can’t see home, but I feel cocooned.
Someone has dusted the pine boughs with icing sugar, turned the gardenia leaves into marzipan. A layer of rock salt coats the deck, the chairs. Icicles cascade off the cushions. Nothing but white quietude until a car’s wheels crunch through the wintry debris.
As the wind whistles, frigid air slides in over the windowsill, brushing my cheek. Cats are curled by the space heater. My second cup of tea has gone cold. I read about Fitzgerald’s “high white note,” and I’m suddenly warm.
Liberated like untangled lassos of Christmas lights, two thin strings of silver barbless wire are threaded through open eyes twisted into posts. They hang loose, spiraling around their open containers, not yet stretched straight or fastened into place. A fence unformed.
The moon, 2:57 p.m., 1-22-13:
The papery white orb hangs in the cloudless robin’s-egg sky like a half-melted communion wafer.
The hawk spreads out his tail feathers in a smooth flourish, a flamenco dancer’s fan snapping the audience to attention.