Still Life (A Myth)

I will pick a blue flower.

#

The old one sits in a vase.  Navy blue, blackened, dry crumbs, as if pressed inside an old book. A little life clings to its edges, a lingering glow. Mother nibbles at these fresh parts, the fresh blue, mixes it with her saliva, spits it out through stained teeth. It lands upon the goddess. She has done this, countless times. We will eat again.

 I look at the goddess, the image of her. Her likeness, plaster and paint, a shadow of once she once was, if she ever was. I imagine the tips of her fingers not being broken as they are now, the days when she could feel things. Her face must have smiled then. Now, only her eyes touch you, follow you. She beckons you with frozen arms, covered in lifetimes of blue that run deep in dried drips, darker in spots, lighter at times.

There is more than blue.

Dry red patches run underneath the swashes of blue.  I’ve been told they’re before mother’s time. They appear at the hem of her dress, upon her breast, and below one of her eyes. Were there ones who offered red upon the statue? There must have been.

I ask mother. She’s kind when she answers questions, even questions that have no answers.  “Red runs, hides, carves up images, buries the leftovers. Never bury a goddess. It’s bad luck.” I believe mother. But I don’t understand. All I know is that I must pick a blue one.

The dance starts. This occurs after mother makes her offering, for the harvest. I know the steps, taught to me when I first learned to walk. The song is our melody. The dance emulates the village, its round shape, its huts, sticks, mud. That’s when he nudges me. I think he likes me. I’m not sure I like him.

He holds up a knife.  He tells me to take it with me when I go to pick the blue flower.  I tingle inside. It could mean anything. I don’t know why I take the knife from him.

#

The outer gates of the village are opened.  Outside the walls is a land of fibers, a yarn-like forest of white string, two feet in and I become invisible. There are trails, their endings unknown, fables surround them, cities of wonder at their ends. I ask the trails questions. Is it funny to talk to trails? They answer or I do.

They tell me about colors. It is that they wilt, turn to yarn, power hides in their shadows. Listening to this voice, I feel as if I’m buried in the forest. I can feel everything grow around me, how everything stretches to the sun, all life, love curls around my feet.  Images, images, images. All is images…

Except for the knife. It’s no image.

The knife is heavy. I press it to my chest to feel how it vibrates. A steel coldness. It’s sharp. I feel a prick of pain. I drop the knife. Then, I pick a flower.

#

When mother sees me, she holds my heart, not my real heart, its image. A new blue flower sits in the vase. Mother’s lips are stained indigo. We will eat again.

The dance starts. I see him move in steps he’s known since a child. He cuts the weeds around my feet with the knife. I look down at my feet and they’re covered in blue.

My fingers are dry, cracked. I hold my arms out—wide—to the sun.

 

 

 

10 Comments on “Still Life (A Myth)

  1. A wonderful write, Elan. Such beauty in the twists and turns of it, the descriptive words that show so much in something deceptively simple…when it’s not.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is lovely, evocative, just enough. I admire the way you’ve hewed it down to the essence.

    Liked by 2 people

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