Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wild Child

a child of thunder and lightning

i am drawn to them for sustenance

gathering strength from their ancient presence

my father’s booming voice

now grumbles comfortingly

now crashes explosively from above,

a measure of his harsh protective love


my lightning mother

stabs me to the heart with her beauty

and lights my path in darkest night

“always strike for the heart” she said

“for good or ill, heart’s-blood is healing

only an open heart can welcome god”


father’s growly muttering wakes the wind

who laughing wildly,

rushing, swirling

sings cantatas among the leaves

chuckles in the water lapping at the pier

and whispers secrets that only me and the fireflies can hear


my mother cleaves the night with her stark glamour

she fills me to the core with pulsing light

she sends the rain to bathe me

clothes me in warm soft summer wetness

and electrifies my dreams with sacred fire


her glow fades behind the clouds

as she follows her gruff husband

sharing the power of their passage

with all their children

all those who look upwards

all who are ready to be broken open,

spilled and filled again, emptied and filled,

emptied and filled in the endless flow of eternity


© 2009 Pamela Twining

Paint It Black


The buttery September sunlight glinted from Alabeth’s russet hair, illuminating the golds, burnished coppers and true reds. I think I fell in love with her at that moment. From across the park, I was drawn to her; I had to know her. As I approached, she turned her amber eyes toward me and I was lost in the Bermuda Triangle of her gaze. Even the air quivered between us, taut, like the string of a drawn bow.

“Y-your name…?” I stammered.

“Alabeth” she laughed, “Alabeth Golden”.

“It would be…” I felt myself flush as the words left my mouth.

She laughed again and that angel music sounded, you know, a chorus of “Ahhhhhhhh!” like in the movies.

We were never parted after that day. She became my model and my muse. For as long as light came through the north window, she was whatever I wanted her to be; I could paint her for hours…days. Then we’d make delicious love, afterwards lying together talking, sharing wine and smoke.

My work came alive with colour: violets, greens and carmines, sun-struck yellows, and Alabeth was a lady on horseback, a languid courtesan, a beggar woman nursing her child. She was Everywoman and, through her, I became the artist I had always wanted to be.

Within a few years, the paintings began to sell. We spent more and more time travelling to attend gallery openings, being interviewed, negotiating, doing the business side of art. We both danced and laughed like children when I was invited to exhibit solo at a well-respected gallery in Manhattan. On opening night, Alabeth was the toast of the town. Everyone recognized the depth and insight she had brought to my work, seeing the connection between us, as if it were a visible bond.

Back in our woodland cabin, the work continued to go well. This year, as winter melted into spring, the sound of the waters rushing down the mountainside began to call to her. She roamed the woods, bringing back nettles, fiddleheads, wild onions and thyme, composing beautiful salads for our supper, starred with edible flowers in periwinkle, orange and white, a delight for the eye as well as the palate.

But as the days grew longer, she began to stay out later and later, until one evening, she didn’t come home at all. I was frantic. I took the lantern and began combing the woods, searching and calling her name. I circled back to the cabin around midnight, sick at heart, to find her calmly folding clothes and packing them into a carpetbag.

“Where have you been?” I shouted. “Do you know how worried I’ve been? I’ve been envisioning horrible things! What were you thinking?”

She turned those golden eyes in my direction, piercing my soul. “I’m free, you know, André. It has pleased me to please you. And I have loved and will always love you, but I can’t stay here any longer. I’d shrivel and die in one place; I’m a wanderer at heart.”

“But Ala! You can’t just leave! Not just like that! Why?!”

“I told you…. I need to go; I’m not made for settling down. You may think I’m shallow, or fickle, but I would only grow to resent you, hate you even, if I stay. You’re successful now and you have your Great Vision. I love you so well, it’s hard, but it’s past time for me to move on.”

“This is so unlike you! You’re usually so soft, so gentle! This isn’t you! Listen to me!”

“André, there isn’t anything to say. You’ve never really seen me, only the fruits of your fantasies. And here I was, lying beside you every night, waiting to become the woman of your dreams. But this is me, stepping into the Now, no more lying in your warm, narcotic arms...”

“NO! I can’t let you go!”

“I am going, André. I’ve packed my things; I’m leaving in the morning.”

“No, I mean I can’t LET you go!” and I grabbed her, held her hard. She pulled from me and backed further into the room. I moved to seize her again and she tripped and fell, hitting her head on the corner of the woodstove with a sickening thunk! A crimson pool began to spread beneath her.

“NO! Alabeth! Ala! Oh, God! No!” I ran to her, tried to lift her, to wake her, to get any response at all. She lay limp in my arms. Her eyes clouded; all that sparkling warmth and light drained from her with her lifeblood. It happened so fast! In my fury, I kicked the lantern lying next to me and it crashed into the wall, spilling kerosene and fire onto the floor. Tongues of flame spread quickly, leaping from floor to curtains to canvas, igniting the gauzy film of Ala’s skirt, consuming everything in their path, meeting in one great roaring conflagration…

…Somehow I am outside, in the lowering darkness. The cabin is no more; only blackened ruins remain, shards of ebony thrusting into the even blacker sky. The acrid stench of death and fire surrounds me. Here and there, a smoldering timber bursts into occasional flame, then gutters out.

A strange calm washes over me, a cosmic emptiness. My love, my life… all gone. I want the stars blotted out of the sky. I want the sun to never rise again. No light. No color. Ever.

Almost tranquilly, in this weird intermezzo, I lift a charred piece of wood, still flaring. The last thing I see is that glowing ember, as I raise it to my eyes and all goes dark forever. My screams follow Alabeth’s spirit into the endless night.

© 2009 Pamela Twining