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TALES OF AN ORANGEPEELER

an archive of pleasures, wounds, sublimations
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01.15.04, thursday morning

On Sunday, we wound our way through the forest, by horseshoe-printed path, over narrow bridges, along a muddy bird-trail studded with white mushrooms aglow; so soft, softly, they beckoned me to stop, pick, cradle. I didn't; the poisonous do not always appear in prickly, scarlet, saturnine forms.

Only the serpentine brook sang, gurgling through pipes and over weirs. Years ago, I trekked through a forest much like one, dripping verdure, my breasts only buds under buttoned blouse. My guide, a young bearded man, said, Be on the look out for weirs. But I misheard, as is my wont, and thought he said, Beware weirs. For it is a strange word, weir, so close to weird, as if part of the language of the Celtic faery tales I ate up, wolfish, as a child. Surrounded by the forest and its denizens, I dearly wished to see the weird; an ancient, subtle weird, inexplicable and terrifying, more interesting than San Diegan suburbia and the mundane terrors of home.

. . .

Years and years later, my father told Jimmy and me about the weirs his family built in the old country, small ones notched into the sinuous bodies of streams. Build one in the morning and by afternoon, you'd have a fish or two to fry for supper. It startled me, this tidbit; my father had known the world in a way that was arcane to me. Here was a legend (like a cave, like a forest, of the father) I had not yet explored.

. . .

This time around, January 2004, I'm fine with simply patting the moss-wooly limbs of an oak and leaving the forest as it is, just as I am fine with leaving my notebook at houses not mine or being alone for days. I don't have to find the weird in everything. There is enough in books and newspapers and dreams, in the workings of human beings.

. . .

Ah, but I remember what I felt just a few days ago, as Jimmy and I sat on a knife-scarred bench, close to the edge of a ravine and sheltered by a copse of trees, branches draping low so that we were an audience of two in nature's theatre, the vista revealed before us as a huge stage, faraway cities only smog-shrouded props. Then an actor appeared, soundlessly: a red-tailed hawk soaring in the dull blue sky. And something ancient and sublime crossed our sight.




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