Ukiyo-e As of Today


Ukiyo-e I--Before Bed

Blue shadows spill from the unseen new moon. The eaves etch navy ridges against the milk-lit stucco walls and the thick grass is no-color-at-all.

Three lights flashing, an airplane lumbers across the field of pinpoint white stars. The warmth of the summer night fills my lungs with each breath. If only I smoked or drank or took interest in women other than my wife I could be standing here in my boxers in my screened porch cradling a world-weary scotch, or stirring my Sangria with a finger, or puffing away on my little black filterless belgians, or lightly rolling my Ybor City mock Cuban between thumb and forefinger, or stroking the taut but silky smooth stomach and lower breasts of this week's love while waiting for my dog to do his business. But I'm not. I'm standing here thinking how wet this heat feels, and watching the plane vanish across the sky above the pink sodium lights of the neighborhood pool.

Ukiyo-e II--Arriving

Sun-faded pink fabric walls catch the trickle of sunlight that passes mylar shade and mini-blind. Dusty rose makes so much more pleasant a cell compared to the gray walls of just a few years back.

The windows drip with the dew of too cold a building just emerging from Florida night, blurring the figures of the live oak, hedge, elephant-ear philodendron, and the gray strip of pavement that through the crawl of countless cars separates us from the dolphin-pools and tourists that throng in these summer months.

Ukiyo-e III--Junk Mail

Yellow and black, bright red, Sale! Sale! Sale! Letters fan out in stationery blue, clear plastic windows crinkling as the mail is sifted. Two tan envelops fall, the paper equivalent of a rock slide, as they tumble toward the black mouth of the abyss that yawns wide to receive all that falls, or is hurled into it.

A brick of a book of beads, bright beryl and malachite and hematite and onyx, rolled out against a calla-white cover. And here a craft catalogue, a litany of linen, threads and yarn.

The chunk, chunk, chunk of paper fall, the dark pull of the black.

Ukiyo-e IV--Clouds

The eye of Horus, huge and blank and blue stares down at me from between two banks of cloud-blanched sky. The eye of the son of the sun reminds me just in time that providence rewards the wise eye and I tap on my brakes to avoid the bumper of the car driving free-form in planck-space.

Waiting now in the slow-crawl-stop of the turn lane. Trees, wires, telephone poles, ibis-necked street lamps transform the eye from merely blank to baleful or beautiful. I make my turn.

Have you ever stood connected to the sky watching the convecting clouds? The boundless yearning upward surge, the penetration of deepest blue by rising white. The cloud cap expands and then subsides, vanishing entirely into the growing bank.

You expected the water to be blue, but nothing had prepared you for this shade. You had expected sapphire but had no idea that the sun off the sand in the shallows yields turquoise. In fact, when you first see it it is so gorgeous you're certain that only terrible chemical pollution could have resulted in such a color.

Ukiyo-e V--The Trip to Lover's Key

Another beach I have not seen on a thread-thin barrier island that connects Bonita Beach to Fort Myers and Sanibel.

Ukiyo-e VI--The God-Shaped Hole
I got back to filling the God-shaped hole today. I can't tell you what a nuisance it has been, what with people and things falling in all the time. Last week two vintage Ferraris, the week before my mother and my aunt. And the hole keeps growing.

When I first found it, a smoldering pit in the middle of my best field, I called the fire department and paid to have sea-water helicoptered in to fill it. Thought perhaps I could make a pond of it. But the water just kept on running and the hole got no fuller and no cooler.

So then I realized that I needed to line it. Started with quikcrete and figured I cover it with gunite smooth it out and line it with white Carrera marble, from that quarry that gave us David and Moses. It's a good thing I'm a man of means because six million cubic yards of quikcrete later and still no sign of an end.

If I couldn't fill it up, perhaps I could cover it over. That's what we're trying today. Three different ways. I figured I could span it with chicken wire and then plaster it over. When that's done, we'll drape it with crêpe de chîne and silk streamers--make it at kind of neo-Cristo pavilion type experience.

So we'll see. One way or the other, we'll find a way to fill it. With rocks and sand, with books and paper, with long dark alcoholic nights, with prada shoes and Givenchy and Chanel, with polo clubs and yachts, with coq au vin and curry poulet vindaloo with a Dom Perignon '65, with Picasso and Matisse and Gaugin and Brancusi. Cover it up, fill it in, one way or another we'll close that gap and I'll feel whole again, my perfect field restored.

Ukiyo-e VII--Rashomon

A-Two Older Women in a Corner Booth
Look at that man, a book and all alone. Where's his wife? How do you know he has one? He's wearing a ring. But is it on the right hand? It's been so long I don't know. Look at that, he's reading while eating, not even looking around..Oh dear. Look at that. What? What he's reading. What is it, how do you know? Sh. . . I saw it on the suggestion shelf. Well, what is it? Breakfast at Tiffanies. Ohhhhh. Yes. Yes. Well we know why there's no wife.

B- Two..Men of a Kind at a. Center Table
I don't care what he's reading--he's gay like I'm getting married. Just look at that shirt. When was the last time that shirt saw an iron? And who told him he could wear either silk or yellow? And those shoes! Can we say lumberjack? I've known a few lumberjacks and they wouldn't be caught dead in those, what, two years ago Rockport knockoffs.. But it's Holly Golightly. I don't care if he walked through the door with Madonna, Barbra, and Cher. He's just not one of us.

C- The Man Himself-Window Table
This has to be the longest book ever written. I've been reading it forever. Where's the fabled charm?

Ukiyo-e VIII-Centerpiece

A spray of Dendrobium in a stocky blue-glass bottle that yields a stroboscopic flash of bright blue light where the sun alternately shown and hidden by overhead fan blades stir the light, all this at the point where smooth bottle joins twist-top neck. Velvet purple petals shade to magenta throats and fade to white where white and lavender stem join the blossom to the green mainline of the spray.

Bookmark and Share



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 5, 2006 9:20 PM.

This Little Light of Mine was the previous entry in this blog.

Ukiyo-e as of Yesterday is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll