Monday, April 5, 2010

Southern Comfort

If you squint you'll see the date on the cover of this issue of Southern Accents Magazine: July-August 1997. You'll also notice (if you squint even harder) the thumb tack holes and blackening in the margins where it has been alternately pinned and taped to walls and cork boards for nearly 13 years.

Throughout the day, the sight of it in the corner of my eye tantalizes. What's out there, I wonder, beyond the arches where the sun light  is so brilliant? It's a garden I think, deeply green, with a circular pool and a fountain. I can hear the gentle splashing from where I'm flopped on the settee, feet up on the flowered hassock with its deep turquoise fringe, eyelids drooping over a book--the only jarring note. It's probably something involving serial killers or clowns in sewers.

We don't want to get too sappy now, do we? An acid splash is always nice; it's like a touch of anchovy in the mozzarella en carozza.

What makes the room are the jarring notes, its umami if you will: The raw, unfinished look of the doors to (presumably) the house; the dagger sharp points on the chandelier, a guillotine above the rosebush. In the foreground, lashing out from the left corner, the needle-whiskered tongues of a cactus twisting toward the fatly innocent elbow of whomever is hefting a martini in that flowerfully cushioned wicker chair.   

Those little threats are what make this room so tasty, that make me curl my toes. Observe how they contradict the almost overwhelming sweetness of the candy colorations of the floral fabrics that cover the furniture, toss pillows, and silken shawl. How they offset the ticklish fringes and tassels and the heady scent of full-blown roses in pink and vermilion

Notice how they quietly call attention to textures that sit on a wobbly edge of discomfort: the brittle smoothness of the wicker, the slightly scratchy coarseness of the needlepoint pillows, the pebble finish of the strawberry sherbet stucco walls, the ceiling that vaults and then melts into the columns' massive Corinthian capitals, which in turn flow into curvaceous fluted shafts twisting to the floor like fat edenic snakes.

This is the closest I've come to my perfect veranda; the closest I've come to utter peace. And so I tote it with me, from office to office to where it hangs now, on the story board over my desk-- the place where I organize my various lives and leave hints to myself about what I want in the future.

In this way, what sometimes happens, is that what I want in the future--or something acceptably similar-- simply evolves. As if i never lifted a finger or went beyond a thought.

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