“Meadow” — C.Birde, 7/18
Broad and blue as water, the sky floats above a lush green meadow tossed with wind-stirred wildflowers. Calm. Lovely. Pastoral. On the horizon, beyond hill and grass and flowers, a low line of white vapor forms — lifts and drifts, expands.
A word, born of white cloud; mist-edged yet distinct. Gently, it wafts upward, pushed higher by another word. Then another. Until the words stretch and elongate in height, and the sky is inscribed in pale, loose-formed text. A second line follows, then a third and a fourth. The lines scroll upward, and soon, the sky — from horizon to vault — is filled with perfectly-formed cloud words.
Over there, amongst the sky-written page, floats the word: “Flowering”.
Below that: “in and beyond”.
And there, adrift together: “peace” and “time”.
— C.Birde, 7/18
“Burden” — C.Birde, 7/18
The room is too small, the ceiling too low. A living room – beige walls, soil-brown carpet; cramped and crowded with worn, shabby brown plaid furniture. A room too small for comfort, too small for living. Yet, a young woman sits on the floor, pulling at the carpet’s fibers; and a large, elderly woman sits, at the room’s center, astride…
An enormous horse. Beyond Draft or Belgian or Clydesdale dimensions. Beyond the room’s capacity to contain it. A horse so large the arch of its bowed neck approaches the ceiling’s cracked plane; so large, the round, fleshy woman it bears must hunker forward over its withers or strike her head.
The horse paces a slow circle with heavy, dragging hooves, wears away the carpet, step by step, thread by thread.
The woman astride the horse dismounts, hands over the reins. Scale the great creature’s side…try to maintain a seat…slide, forward and down, along the horse’s bent neck. Catch knotted handfuls of mane; clamp knees to prevent inexorable decent.
The horse flattens its ears against its skull, peels back its whiskered lips to reveal large, yellow teeth. It rolls great dark eyes backward to survey — unkindly, impatiently — its new and unwieldy burden.
— C.Birde, 7/18
“Releasing Magic” — C.Birde, 6/18
All is dark. Claustrophobic. All but the unicorn.
Though caught in stone, the unicorn positively radiates — light and motion pulse through and over its rearing form. Its front legs churn the darkness, and its forelock, mane, and tail are caught and curled and tumbled by unseen currents. The tip of its scrolled horn reaches 10 feet high, and its dark eyes shine. Here and there, its paint is worn, burnished by the touch of admirers long forgotten. It is a magnificent creation, so extraordinarily lifelike, it must surely spring from the massive plinth on which it is mounted.
Few remember the unicorn. Fewer still see it — down here, so far below — and those lost souls that do, no longer bear witness. They have forgotten the unicorn’s splendor, have become immune to its beauty and magic. Clothed in their own tattered shadows, they shuffle past with the brims of their hats pulled down to shield against the unicorn’s light.
Work quickly. Wedge the pry bar beneath the broken stone floor and the plinth’s heavy base. Curl, bodily, over and grip the metal lever. Tight-fisted, teeth grit, sweating — lean fully against the bar’s length. Hear the gritty scrape and separation of stone and metal. Feel the dull-eyed gazes of shuffling passersby slew ‘round.
The statue shifts.
In full-bodied, sweat-inducing, gut-wrenching, necessary effort — heave.
Break the statue free.
Restore the magic.
Release the unicorn.
— C.Birde, 6/18
“Gray Cell” — C.Birde, 5/18
Featureless room. Monochrome gray. A 10-foot square cell. No door. Lacking windows. A chamber deprived, depriving. Soundless. Scentless. Without texture. But for the rectangular hole — a 3-foot wide horizontal slot, 9 inches high, 8 feet up. Light drifts and gently slips past the rectangle’s hard edges. Shadows pass. Hint of movement beyond. The rift darkens, fills. Squares of fabric choke the slot, tumble — edge over edge — into the cell. One after another. Rough weave of fabric; rust orange. Another and another. The pace of their entry increases. Rapidly, the chamber fills, becomes a landscape of heavy, rumpled rust. Ankle deep. Calf deep. Knee deep. Still, the slot coughs up more. Waist deep. Ribs deep. Shoulders burdened. Lungs restricted. The once-gray cell, transformed. Sunset hues consume, bury.
— C.Birde, 5/18
How long has it been since I’ve seen her? Twenty years? Thirty? Forty? Yet there she stands — Irma. In her lilac house dress, patterned all over with small sprigs of flowers. In her flat, sensible, Mary-jane style shoes — scuffed and comfortable. In her nude compression stockings — rolled beneath her knees and creased in folds about her ankles. She is small and compact – moreso than I recall – and stands with her small hands neatly folded over the curve of her belly. Coiffed and snowy ringlets peep from the band of her netted, pillbox hat. Oyster-colored cat-framed glasses perch on the bridge of her nose, connected — one temple to the other — by a strand of silver beads that drapes loosely down the back of her neck.
Most of all, though — most of all — Irma smiles. A pure, honest, dimpling smile that lifts her cheeks against the lower rims of her glasses and transforms her eyes into twin, up-side-down smiles.
She stands;,a solitary figure amidst a great stretch of rolling lawn – a graveyard that has not yet received internments. Surrounding her – uniformly and purposely spaced – ancient, solitary trees lift their age-roughened branches skyward. Pale spring light glides like youth through the trees’ slow-budding limbs.
And Irma – hands clasped; standing in her own shadow; light glancing off her glasses’ lenses – Irma smiles.
— C.Birde, 4/18
The room is large; a bare rectangle of space, carved from sandstone and most certainly underground. A twenty-foot ceiling yawns overhead. The walls to left and right span forty feet, while the rear wall disappears into unstructured darkness.
Ahead, a large rectangular tunnel — twice as wide as it is tall — peels open the forward wall’s blunt face. This extends into gradually thickening dark; bends sharply left into a disruption of broad shafts of dusty, golden light.
Notice, at length, the carving above the tunnel’s entrance. The room’s only decorative feature — a meticulous stone replica of a carp’s head, its scales and gills and bulging eyes polished to matte smoothness. Long whiskers fringe the stone fish’s slightly open mouth – mid-breath, mid-speech.
The floor is warm, slightly gritty underfoot; the air, still and without scent. Remain rooted, motionless, within the tomb-like, womb-like space. A column of flesh, surrounded by stone, enfolded in half-light and absolute silence.
— C.Birde, 4/18
“Scintillation” — C.Birde, 3/18
Boundless field of dark – inky, plush, coal-black. Pressed against eyelids. Consuming vision.
Light pricks — winks and blinks and scintillates. Golden, glittering. A multiplicity of individual, shivering stars within and against the dark — entering breath and pores, veins and mind.
Upon waking, carry it from dream, out into the world. Feed it to every word, every thought and action. Let it bloom in outstretched hands, shape tongue’s speech, heart’s beat.
— everything –
— C.Birde, 3/18