Metamorphosis No. 1

escher_sky_waterMy work is a game, a very serious game.

–M. C. Escher

A door with a brass handle in a long hallway creaks open; inside is a faded Oriental rug, and a lazy lion who looks up.

It is a room of full of colors, masks moving, a masquerade. Bare breasts elevated to nervous heights above tittering laughter and the memory of music. Through the window, the Atlantic Ocean stretches, and yawns.

But maybe not. Maybe it’s only two children, making believe in a seaside attic. The girl giggling from behind a fan, flirting with the bust of a mannequin. The pert bosom of that Elizabethan maiden is revealed, in fact, as the young girl’s apple cheeks; the gentleman’s brass-handled riding crop, merely her brother’s tousled cowlick.

The lazy lion, in this case, would double as the rug, dusty, and losing its colors. Its head a kind of mask, mouth stretched wide—that fearsome roar, reduced to a yawn.

Then again, it wasn’t necessarily an attic—it looked as if someone had opened a diner in a library. The young girl could just as easily have been a waitress. Maybe she was pouring coffee for a handsome man, eating apple pie. Maybe his face seemed oddly immobile, until he looked up at her and smiled.

Was it the memory of laughter that moved him? Or did the bust of the waitress remind him, maybe, of some Elizabethan maiden in a painting he’d studied in school?

As for her, she looked a bit wistful, so far inland. Who’s to say she didn’t dream of the sea? Who’s to say the man’s childish cowlick didn’t remind her a bit of her brother, a Leo, who’d lately shipped out to the Middle East?

The ceiling fan turns lazily above them, and between them, a great gulf yawns. He’s making believe he’s an artist, while inside her, the ocean roars.

9 thoughts on “Metamorphosis No. 1

  1. Oh man, I just tripped through several worlds, eras, relationships and temporal pockets! From sex, to playful children, to learned adolescence, to the adult chore of work, to the mundanity & occasional beauty in cohabitation, the artist who is both lover & reminiscent brother, whom she serves, and waits for the charm of his smile to shatter the stoicism. The woman waits on life to begin & yearns for more. Always yearning. Always waiting for the shift.

    From fish to fowl, from underwater to air, it’s hard to tell where two animals, two people, and several scenes begin, separate, overlap, transition & end. It was like looking through time windows.

    Just beautiful!

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      1. Oh I totally KNOW! and i’m glad i “got” it and made you feel understood. It’s what we aim for in all endeavors, no?

        There’s tons of great internal layers and images mirroring, referencing, interlocking and implying each other here—much like an Escher work, many clever or perhaps unconscious threads to tease out, unbraid, and pull apart.

        The lion, the Leo, the lover, the ages and corresponding sensibilities. The Middle East, the gulf, the ocean and the lion yawning and roaring. The masks, the masquerade, the mannequin, the apple-cheeked (breasted) maiden/waitress who is memory and music—she counterpointed and divided by he—the handsome and immobile-faced gentleman, his brass-handled riding crop, his childish cowlick, his hunger for apple pie (her?), his play-pretend artist life. Her eyes behind a fan, the fan above her eyes on the ceiling. I smell resentment all over the thing. I see more in her and so does she.

        It’s a very compact, not dense, mind you, but extremely well-crafted and fractal, fractured faerie tale.

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