Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Arrangement with Black Crabs, a Bucket, and Butterflies

Arrangement with Black Crabs, a Bucket, and Butterflies

Come daybreak, after climbing out of the bucket of black crabs
that is depression, where every time you try the walls
the other crabs pull you back in, you realize how close
to that edge you were. The thought stops you.
Sometimes life is an untreatable sucking chest wound.
The black crabs stare blank and silent even when depression's
situational. Your dreams are intense, vivid, instantly gone
past remembering. It stops you. It's no wonder
the pollyanna positive thinkers give you no traction.
The walls of the bucket are slick, and easy to slide
back down.
            One afternoon in Key West, the best part of the day
was spent at the Butterfly Conservatory, an aerated
airlocked ornate greenhouse full of exorbitant plants, birds and butterflies.
My attention was on photographing the beautiful bugs
but I was half-distracted by two younger men, tall thin
Scandi brothers barely clothed in the humid sun.
They kept unselfconsciously posing, langourous as tropical flowers,
as they peered at the butterflies and blooms in postures designed
to activate and irritate my nether instincts. My photographic catch
that day was two-thirds bright-winged flying stellar insects,
and one-third shoulders and bare thighs. A feast of color and form
for any camera.
            Two summers later,
driving along Turtle Creek Road, a sky of cloudless sulphur butterflies
rose fitfully from the explosion of blossoming ditch lilies
and queen anne's lace wild along the roadbed. A few yellow
winged bugs hit my windshield and bounced off, leaving
no trace.
            It's these tracks of memories, winding through
thickets in the arid desert of the heart, that keep
you going. They stop you. They stir your nether regions which is often
all that makes you want to stay alive. At the verge of falling back in
they give you enough push to chin yourself up and out
of the bucket. It's still dark beyond, but at least
you can perch on the rim a spell, wait for enough light
to be able to climb down and scurry away, claws and camera
alike clicking. In that deep blue hour before sunrise,
the only sound for the moment is that clicking, and your feet
ticking the loose beach cobble of the strand, in the still near-dark
vanishing ahead.

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