before growing too attached to the imagery, beware that this is a post-mortem photograph. unsurprisingly, it’s from the victorian era, which readily embraced the miry arms of feeble death, but with an identical, modern anxiety that has spanned all of mans clumsy life, for richer or for poorer. we are life and we’re married to death. and death does appear so mediocre, we see it peeking by hospital beds and sitting on chests, waiting for blood tests in filthy chairs, in the black eyes of the unforgettable.
with that sinking knowledge, her woeful expression might make more sense. a candle in a nightmare room. the swollen eyes don’t portray the living love of a mother employed full-time to her rosy babe, but rather the rip that love has made. a tear that can’t be seamed. the hand that has reached inside of her, through her, and took something out. something that will always be missing. her face is a funeral banner for eternal loss. as a mother, my heart collapses for her.
i use this photograph as a reference point for the short story i’m attempting to put together for an anthology that a small publishing company is looking for. i don’t even remember how i found out about it. it’s a strange concept of a ‘mountain pass’ cowboy/western and honestly, not one i’d usually think to contribute to (i love westerns, but mountain passes?) then i remembered the above photograph, a few paragraphs came to me. i’ve decided to post a little bit of it here. because it’ll either be rejected (like all of my work.) and because maybe it’ll shove me into finishing it.
ACROSS LOTS – (excerpt)
In the unmerciful, silvery arms of winter, my daughter died last night. I can think of no other more dire way to perish.
I remember the day that she was born into my colorless world, trees like bare arms in double-jointed positions, bone-white, stripped of the oily colors of their summer-skin, autumn and its fresh bonfire smell rolling down the hills like a child. The fragmented sediment of the defunct, ruby and amber leaves coating the ground in a fine powder on the pathways, here and there the stubborn remnant of a triangle, a final fallen leaf that had straggled until winter elbowed through.
From all of our many, leisurely walks in those woods covered in itchy wool to remain warm, those leaves got in all kinds of places. How the earth invited itself in, stowing away on my heels, clutching onto the trailing hems of my long skirts, and never did the mess seem to be fully swept up in the corners of our small home.
The pain was like a hand that reaches through, one with the skilled architecture of a pincer, pulling down, dragging the agony out, sputtering it back in. It went on like this for hours, the perfect circle. She was stuck. She almost didn’t make it; I almost didn’t make it either. The blood site still haunts the empty bed in my flashing dreams, the howling battleground, and the chill wooden floor in its silence, thrilling the memories a bright black.
Somewhere, where our old life exists beyond this mountain pass, the memory has stayed behind, but its phantom and its hex has followed.
words = samantha lucero 2016 ©
image = not mine.