Monday, July 5, 2010

Then and Now

Night spreads its palm across the plains. Crickets lose their count, and start again. An owl opens its eyes with dread aim.

Darkness is a figure eight.

The girl lies on the blanket, clutching a book to her chest. The big toenail on her right foot digs at a mosquito bite. Her smile curves with the horizon, and her eyes clock shooting stars. Clouds blow wide, netting wayward constellations.

Wind is a careless laugh.

She doesn’t know. She doesn’t know, lying here, that this ground is sacred. That she will return to the place, in dreams and recollections, and run her finger around the cool, sharp lip of time. That she will reflect back on the strawberry skirt she wore, and slip that finger inside its hidden pocket—before it dissolves. That she will, one day—and sooner than seems right—pair bitter to the sweet now cradling her.

That she will shape the clay of now.

The moon is a pockmarked teenager.

Bats are birds with the song squeezed out.

Fireflies are star-crossed lovers.

And it comes upon her. With the urgency of revelation. He is out there. Somewhere. Even now. He. Breathing. Him. Reading. Or—

Looking up at a moon.

Like me.

Her breath catches on the crescent thought. She sets the book down in the grass, and extends her arms above her head. Growing herself a little taller. Feeling the warm flutter beneath the ghosts of breasts to come.  Making room.

Over the hills, fireworks begin. She hitches up her elbows to watch their frantic pop and stomp. And soon misses her quiet canvas.

“Lizzie! C’mon back to the house!”

Fear is a horse with too many hooves.

“It’s started, girl!”

She scrambles to her feet, and runs across the field. Her legs through the rushes are the pulse of someone else’s youth. Her small fists punch the night.  Her braids flap in figure eights.

The book’s cover, on the grass behind her, glows blue, then red, before falling to black.

“I’m coming, Mama!”

The owl spreads its wings and takes to air.

The art is Andrew Wyeth's Night Shadow.


Stephen Parrish said...


Charles Gramlich said...

Very nice. And some nice "plum" is on it's way to me.

Melissa Sarno said...

This is lovely. I enjoy reading about main characters, mostly girls and women, who are dreamers. I also love your poetic prose. Thanks for sharing!

Susan Deborah said...

Of little girls and their worlds. I liked the italicised lines. They offer a lovely aside kind of feeling.

They say "I'm a dreamer . . ."

Hope you are well dear Sarah. Seems like a long time.

Joy always,

joaquin carvel said...

maybe it's just me - but i love how you incorporate so much poetry in your prose. not just in the italics, but in things like "Clouds blow wide, netting wayward constellations." and "pair bitter to the sweet now cradling her."

wondefully bittersweet, hopeful and poignant. like adolescence, i guess - the shooting stars and imagination, and the owl's "dread aim" all at once.

the contrast between the maturity of the painting and the youthfulness of the girl is perfect. a connection as much as a contrast. like the moon.

i only wish i could bottle this moment and take a sip now and then.

Sarah Hina said...

Steve, thank you.

Charles, wow! That's great to hear. (erm, I think)

Melissa, thank you so much. I love writing these pieces. They're not always the most effective story-wise, but they're a chance to indulge in that girlish dreamy side. Just as you said. :)

Susan, I can definitely identify with John's song! I have a feeling you can, too. :)

It has been too long since I've stopped by your lovely blog. I will try and remedy that soon! Thank you, Susan. Always.

Joaquin, me too. I guess that's what writing allows us to do. And somehow, it becomes more pure and potent when filtered through imagination and memory. Maybe that's because what's in my head often seems more palpable than anything in that other world.

Thank you for all the wonderful things you said. And especially for the comment about Wyeth's painting. I think he's inspired me more than any other artist. I love this one of Helga.

Sarah Hina said...

Oh, geez. Maybe Matisse has inspired me more than any other artist. What with my book and all...



Karen said...

Interesting and lovely vignette, Sarah. Others have remarked on your poetic prose, and you know that I've said before that your language is always lovely. Parts of this could be a prose poem, or given line breaks, could be considered poetry.

I regret calling your novel a romance; literary novel, of course. With your writing, of course!

the walking man said...

May her dreams be dreams no more when she reads the words you have written here.

Sarah Hina said...

Aw, Karen, don't worry about that. I didn't mean it as a reproach--just marveling at how our original motivations can be squeezed into a more marketable niche. I'm not fussy, though. It's definitely a romance in spirit.

Thank you for the very kind words about this vignette. I love that marriage of prose and poetry. Ever since I fell in love with Michael Ondaatje, who does it better than anyone.

Mark, what a beautiful wish for all of us. Thank you.


All the best for "Plum Blossoms in Paris". I saw it on Facebook and also on Amazon. :-)

Dream's Scribe said...

I love this!!

Sarah Hina said...

Nishant, thanks so much! I'm glad word is spreading. :)

Sarah Hina said...

Dream's Scribe, thank you for stopping by and for the warm words!

Aniket said...

Echo to Joaquin... oaquin... quin... in. (Well it was an echo, whaddaya expect?)

He has expressed what we all feel about your prose. You always have a lyrical voice about your characters. And it can't get much better than this one. My fav. part was "She sets the book down in the grass, and extends her arms above her head. Growing herself a little taller." That's what I was doing when a friend took my profile pic. ;)

And oh yeah, the word is spreading. :D

Sarah Hina said...

Aniket, your echo (cho...o...) cracked me up. Thanks. :)

And yes, I think your profile pic is perfectly matched to this little story. May we continue to grow taller...but never grow up!

(The word is spreading...thanks to you!)

Beth said...

Yes, marvelous. Fear is a horse with too many hooves. Great line.

Naquillity said...

your writing keeps one so transfixed. i simply love your style. it's a pleasure to read. hope all is well.

Catvibe said...

WOW this is why I love your writing so much Sarah, you are just so exquisite at your phrasing and your metaphors that I just, frankly, don't even know what to do except read it over and over with my jaw dropped wide. Just dag nab frickin gorgeous.