& Subscribe to the NEWSLETTER
Use the form below to share your thoughts or ask questions. Also use it to subscribe to the free every-month-or-so newsletter (130+ subscribers)—original artworks that come to you.
Also below: some recent issues of the newsletter.
Below is the current issue; also a few recent issues.
For all back issues, click here.
Sent every month or so with ❤️
to family, friends & subscribers.
IN THIS ISSUE
– new art & photography
– the Squeezeshot Saga
Do you like to read? You might enjoy the Squeezeshot Saga.
It’s a fiction that pretends to be nonfiction, set in the present day.
Its central subject: a new device, and an astonishing new freedom,
that are radically transforming our lives and civilization:
The Saga is illustrated with original paintings,
photographs, and videos. It begins here.
This year’s Spring Newton Open Studios weekend (the 22nd annual) will take place August 6 & 7 from 11am to 5pm. It will feature exhibits by more than 150 artists in 45 locations around Newton. I’ll be there through both days, showing several dozen new works of art and photography that I’ve created this year. (Preview below and at this website’s 2019 art and photography pages.
DIRECTIONS: My exhibit will be in its usual spot near the elevator at the west (War Memorial) end of the ground floor of Newton City Hall (1000 Commonwealth Ave.). 22 other artists will also be exhibiting in City Hall.
VISITOR INFO: There’s a list of all Spring Open Studio artists, their genres, locations, and examples of their work, as well as a downloadable guide/map, at Welcome to Newton Open Studios (my listing: Newton Open Studios Artist Page).
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY
created since the last NEWS
As mentioned above, with the coming of Spring comes the 22nd annual Spring Newton Open Studios weekend. It’s free, and will feature exhibits by more than 150 artists at 45 locations around Newton. I’ll be displaying a few dozen works of art and photography that I’ve created this year. My exhibit will be in its usual spot near the elevator at the west (War Memorial) end of the ground floor of Newton City Hall (1000 Commonwealth Ave.). I’ll be there through both days.
- For 3 years, I’ve been fortunate to have a photograph chosen for the annual Maine Photography Show in Boothbay Harbor. This year it’s The Driver, of a pedicab driver in Havana. (See Havana photos.) This year’s show will take place at the BRAF (Boothbay Regional Art Foundation) Gallery from 11am to 5pm every Thursday through Sunday, from Sunday, April 7 to Friday, May 3.
- Some of my paintings, and a few words, appear in the Winter 2019 issue of The Maine Arts Journal. More publication coming soon.
- Several days a week, I’ve been posting new work on Instagram (@marcusparsonsiii). They’re a river of images & a kind of art diary. (“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”– Pablo Picasso.).
- And new works and older are always on display in the galleries, etc. at the Squeezeshot website: ART PHOTOGRAPHY SAGA VERSE VIDEO.
Best to you,
Upward (shown here) was chosen for the Newton Open Studios Winter Juried Show. The show is in the 2nd floor hallway of Newton City Hall until February 28. Hours: 8:30 to 5, Monday through Friday.
Several of my paintings, and a few words, appear in the Winter 2019 issue of the Maine Arts Journal;
I’ve been posting some of my work—newest pieces, usually— on Instagram (@marcusparsonsiii). A kind of artistic diary. (“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.”– Pablo Picasso.);
Coming April 6 & 7: the annual Newton Open Studios. I’ll be exhibiting at my usual spot in Newton City Hall: ground floor, west (War Memorial) end, near the elevator. There will be 160+ artists exhibiting around the city, including 20 in City Hall. Save the date!
For the third year in a row, one of my photographs, Driver (Havana), has been chosen for the annual Maine Photography Show in Boothbay Harbor, April 7 to May 3.
Best to all,
Season’s greetings to you. As the season and
new year unfold, may much joy come your way.
OPEN HOUSE AFTERMATH
To those of you who came to our annual arts open house on November 18, it was great to see you, talk with you, and share our work with you. Come again next year!
You may have heard our neighbor Suzanne Matson’s reading there from her wonderful new novel, Ultraviolet. Coincidentally, a few days later the NY Times published a powerful and touching essay by Suzanne about her mom’s final months. It is titled The Caretaker of the Chin Hairs, and is online at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/23/well/family/mother-daughter-elderly-dementia-end-of-life.html. There’s also a fine review of Ultraviolet in the Briefly Noted section of this week’s New Yorker, online at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/12/10/invisible-between-two-millstones-ultraviolet-and-frail-sister. (“This unostentatious yet intricate novel follows the women of a family across nearly a century….”) If you would like to read Ultraviolet, it is available at libraries and bookstores around Boston, and at many bookstores around the country, as well as on Amazon.
Best to you,
Subscribe here to these occasional newsletters. To stop receiving
them, use the same form but include the word “stop” in the text.
NEW ART & PHOTOGRAPHY
I’ve created much new art and photography since the last (July) newsletter. The art begins at art gallery D and continues through art gallery E and art gallery F. The photography appears in the Paris, London, and Edinburgh galleries.
The art is a bit of a wild ride, a visual journey through many styles and ideas. The photographs are from travels this summer to Paris, London, and Edinburgh. The London photos are of street art, which I hope you’ll find refreshing. Those voodoo classes for kids, for instance . . . 😜
RED, an annual juried exhibition, will be at the Cambridge Art Association’s galleries from November 8 to December 20. Juried this year by Dan Byers, the Director of Harvard’s Carpenter Center for Visual Arts. The exhibit includes Fingers:
Instagram is a great place for viewing photography and art on the glowing screen(s) of your phone, tablet, laptop, and HDTV. Artists, photographers, museums, and galleries from around the world maintain a presence there.
There are now almost a billion active Instagram users, including many art lovers. These days, as you know, more people view art and photos on backlit screens like the one you’re looking at than in any other format. My occasional contribution on Instagram, recently begun, appears at mlparsonsiii. I hope you’ll follow.
ART Habens Art Review‘s story about Squeezeshot might interest you. It includes a dozen images and an in-depth interview by the curators.
To subscribe to these occasional newsletters,
use the form at the top of this page.
There are 125+ subscribers.
To unsubscribe, use the same
form, adding the word “stop.”
If you know other people who
would like what’s here, please share.
“Whatever pearl you seek,
look for the pearl
within the pearl.”
There are 15 new works at the website —
14 artworks, including Together and Upward
(enlarged above) and Front Yard, a photograph.
Click to see the artand/orthe photography.
* * *
The summer exhibits continue at
The Corner Gallery in Washington, Maine.
ART Habens Art Review’s in-depth story about
Squeezeshot is available to anyone interested.
If you don’t already receive these occasional
free emailings, subscribe using the
form at the top of this page.
(There are 125+ subscribers.)
To stop receiving them, Reply with
the word “stop” in the Subject field.
* * *
Do you know other people who would like
what’s here? Please send them a link.
* * *
“Whatever pearl you seek,
look for the pearl
within the pearl.”
The Corner Gallery in Washington, Maine has chosen six of my works for three of its shows—Lighten Up, Beyond Color, and Summers End. (One work is Lightfall, the uppermost image in the below flyer.) Opening receptions, with light refreshments, will be held the first Friday of each show, beginning at 5 pm.
NOTE: To view the galleries, words, etc.,
described below, click on the highlighted links.
About Now — Remarks, poems, and essays by Émile Zola, Susan Sontag, James Baldwin, W.H. Auden, and Emily Dickinson. Part of my Newton Open Studios art exhibit a few weeks ago. Read them here (lower down this page).
- Spring Newton Open Studios, April 7 & 8 at Newton City Hall, with 19 other artists. There are many art lovers in and near Newton—200+ visitors spent a respectable amount of time at my exhibit. Thank you to readers of this newsletter who came by. Good to see you!
- If you missed the show, you can see most of the 20 or so exhibited works at the 2018 and 2017 art and photography galleries mentioned in NEW GALLERIES, above.
The 2018 Maine Photography Show, in Boothbay Harbor to May 4.
- The show’s juror, Peter Ralston, included Afterlife, a photograph that shows the (digitally re-colored) remains of a shortnose sturgeon, an endangered species, which I found last summer on the beach at Reid State Park on the coast of Maine. You can see the photo here at the Squeezeshot website, in FAVORITES Gallery A.
- Peter (ralstongallery.com) is the leading contemporary photographer of coastal Maine. He said to me of Afterlife, “It’s what Andy Wyeth might have called a ‘wondrous strange’ image!” Peter grew up in Pennsylvania next door to Andrew Wyeth and family, and has been the family’s friend and collaborator ever since. “Wondrous strange” is the title Andrew’s wife Betsy chose for a book about the Wyeth painters, Wondrous Strange: The Wyeth Tradition. It is also a Shakespeare reference that you may recall from Hamlet, after Hamlet and Horatio have encountered a ghost:
- HORATIO: O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!
- HAMLET: And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. / There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
In another current exhibit, two artworks of mine, Blue Migration and Warming, appear in Together is Better: The Marvel and Mystery of Fish Migration, through June 16 at Monkitree (monkitree.com) in Gardiner, Maine.The exhibit celebrates increasing fish migration on the rivers and streams of central Maine, as watersheds there become restored. The two works also appear here at the Squeezeshot site, in the new 2018 art gallery.
Remarks, poems, essays, and fragments by Émile Zola, Susan Sontag, James Baldwin, W.H. Auden, and Emily Dickinson, which I compiled for my recent Newton Open Studios art exhibit. — M.P.
You cannot say you have seen anything until you have got a photograph of it, revealing a lot of points which otherwise would be unnoticed.
The first sentence of On Photography
Humankind lingers unregenerately in Plato’s cave, still reveling, its age-old habit, in mere images of the truth.
* * *
M.P. response to that sentence: I would suggest that everything we perceive—every flicker, sequence, and torrent of our thought, perception, awareness, and imagination— is both an image of the truth and truth itself. That is not only an “age-old habit” of ours, it is necessity, our biology, the creature that is us. Such is our one and only habitat, our cave, our universe(s). May our revels there/here never end.
Final Paragraphs of Nothing Personal
The light that’s in your eyes / reminds me ofthe skies / that shine above us every day-so wrote a contemporary lover, out of God knows what agony, what hope, and what despair. But he saw the light in the eyes, which is the only light there is in the world, and honored it and trusted it; and will always be able to find it; since it is always there, waiting to be found. One discovers the light in darkness, that is what darkness is for; but everything in our lives depends on how we bear the light. It is necessary, while in darkness, to know that there is a light somewhere, to know that in oneself, waiting to be found, there is a light. What the light reveals is danger, and what it demands is faith. Pretend, for example, that you were born in Chicago and have never had the remotest desire to visit Hong Kong, which is only a name on a map for you; pretend that some convulsion, sometimes called accident, throws you into connection with a man or a woman who lives in Hong Kong; and that you fall in love. Hong Kong will immediately cease to be a name and become the center of your life. And you may never know how many people live in Hong Kong. But you will know that one man or one woman lives there without whom you cannot live. And this is how our lives are changed, and this is how we are redeemed.
What a journey this life is! dependent, entirely, on things unseen. If your lover lives in Hong Kong and cannot get to Chicago, it will be necessary for you to go to Hong Kong. Perhaps you will spend your life there, and never see Chicago again. And you will, I assure you, as long as space and time divide you from anyone you love, discover a great deal about shipping routes, airlines, earth- quake, famine, disease, and war. And you will always know what time it is in Hong Kong, for you love someone who lives there. And love will simply have no choice but to go into battle with space and time and, furthermore, to win.
I know we often lose, and that the death or destruction ofanother is infinitely more real and unbearable than one’s own. I think I know how many times one has to start again, and how often one feels that one cannot start again. And yet, on pain of death, one can never remain where one is. The light. The light. One will perish without the light.
I have slept on rooftops and in basements and subways, have been cold and hungry all my life; have felt that no fire would ever warm me, and no arms would ever hold me. I have been, as the song says, ‘buked and scorned and I know that I always will be. But, my God, in that darkness, which was the lot of my ancestors and my own state, what a mighty fire burned! In that darkness of rape and degradation, that fine flying froth and mist of blood, through all that terror and in all that helplessness, a living soul moved and refused to die. We really emptied oceans with a home-made spoon and tore down mountains with our hands. And if love was in Hong Kong, we learned how to swim.
It is a mighty heritage, it is the human heritage, and it is all there is to trust. And I learned this through descending, as it were, into the eyes of my father and my mother. I wondered, when I was little, how they bore it-for I knew that they had much to bear. It had not yet occurred to me that I also would have much to bear; but they knew it, and the unimaginable rigors of their journey helped them to prepare me for mine. This is why one must say Yes to life and embrace it wherever it is found-and it is found in terrible places; nevertheless, there it is; and if the father can say, Yes. Lord. the child can learn that most difficult of words, Amen.
For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.
The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.
September 1, 1939
I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.
Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.
Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
And the international wrong.
Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.
The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.
From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
‘I will be true to the wife,
I’ll concentrate more on my work,’
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.
Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame
an Abyss and
entering it again
That is Life, is
* * *
But are not
all Facts Dreams
as soon as
sent to Boston-area subscribers only
COMING SOON: my annual Newton Spring Open Studios exhibit, Saturday & Sunday, April 7 & 8, from 11 to 5. The exhibit location will be the same as last year: Newton City Hall, 1000 Commonwealth Avenue, on the ground floor inside the west (War Memorial Auditorium) entrance.
This year, the exhibit will feature:
- prints of many new artworks:
- a slideshow of recent art and photography, including photographs of Havana, Mexico City, Florida, and elsewhere;
- words about now, by James Baldwin, Emily Dickinson, W.H. Auden, and others.
19 other artists will also be exhibiting at City Hall, as will 140 more at 50 locations citywide—a big day in Newton for art lovers. Details here, and an illustrated downloadable guide (with map) to artists and locations here.
I’ll be there both days. I hope you’ll stop by!
* * *
Also, posted the next week as a followup:
The annual exhibit at Newton’s Spring Open Studios will take place this Saturday & Sunday, April 7 & 8, from 11 to 5. Same location as last year: Newton City Hall, 1000 Commonwealth Avenue, ground floor inside the west (War Memorial Auditorium) entrance. 19 other artists will also be exhibiting there, as will 140 more citywide. Click here for a downloadable guide to the artists and locations.
The exhibit will feature:
- prints of new artworks:
- a slideshow, including photographs of Havana, Mexico City, and elsewhere;
- words about now, by James Baldwin, Emily Dickinson, W.H. Auden, and others.
I’ll be there both days. I hope you’ll stop by! — Marcus
THE SQUEEZESHOT SAGA
The chapter titled A Saving Grace: The Eternal Present, begun in the September and October issues, concludes below. In it, Vassal Squeezeshot describes his first encounter with angels. More Journal excerpts appear at the Squeezeshot website as part of Vassal’s multivolume saga. Below, the end of Excerpt 5 sets the scene for Excerpt 6.
A Saving Grace: The Eternal Present (conclusion)
last paragraphs of Excerpt 5
I first met the angels three summers before that. I had completed postgraduate studies in electrical engineering and molecular biology, with related studies in other engineering fields, as well as in chemistry, physics, philosophy, and literature. In the course of those studies, my curiosity had led me in many directions, which I had pursued voraciously.
When I graduated, however, I suffered a letdown. I lacked goals and ambition. I hadn’t looked for a job, or thought much about it. I didn’t want to think about it. My mind held too much baggage, to no purpose. I felt restless, unable to move forward, becalmed without peace of mind.
into a pool without end
—no journey ahead.
I spent the summer alone. I loved to fish. Often in those years, I drove deep into the Maine woods to fly-fish for brook trout. Day after day, I forced my beat-up car down a half-mile of overgrown logging road, then lugged my canoe and fishing gear over several hundred yards of tangled game trail, to the shore of my favorite pond.
The best time to fish was late afternoon and evening, when hatching insects attracted trout to the surface. I usually went in midafternoon, however, to arrive early. At the shore, I would put down my load, and make my way to a ridge that rose a few hundred feet above the north side. At the top, I sat on a moss-covered promontory I had found, leaned back on my hands, stretched my legs in front of me, and for an hour or two looked out over the pond and the miles of forest beyond it. Most days, clouds drifted across the sky, their shadows playing on the treetops below me. Waves marched across the pond’s surface, and lapped the shore. Gusts of wind rippled the water, and breezes twirled. Fish ducks, mergansers, fished in the coves. Often, a beaver would be swimming near the marshes.
In the shallows, great blue herons fished among the aquatic grasses. Sometimes, a mink darted from the shore to pull mussels and crawfish from the rocks and mud on the bottom. A white-tailed deer might stroll from the forest to drink. Often, a moose stood shoulder deep, feeding on underwater plants. Some days, a fox trotted along, hunting for squirrels, snakes, frogs, toads, grasshoppers, and the like. Almost always, a few kingfishers would be diving into the pond from overhanging trees and emerging with minnows clutched in their beaks. Small birds and larger—warblers, nuthatches, chickadees, jays, woodpeckers, thrushes—fluttered through the bushes and trees. Crows and ravens flew above, some crying out. Gulls—herring gulls and big, bullying black-backs—circled higher, scavenging. Red-tailed hawks, osprey, and sometimes a bald eagle, soared highest. The birds’ songs and cries, accompanied by breezes purring through the forest, spoke to my reverie.
* * *
In prior summers, observing all of that had been sublime pleasure for me. As that summer began, however, it no longer was. My aimlessness possessed me. I couldn’t enjoy anything. I wanted to be elsewhere, doing something else, but I didn’t know where or what. My discontent pained me, angered me, and depressed me. I couldn’t resolve it, couldn’t moderate, escape, or avoid it. I suffered it, and had no patience for my suffering.
On the afternoon when I first saw the angels, I was sitting on the ridge, waggling my foot, fidgeting. Behind me a red squirrel chattered, scolding me for being there. A jay swooped to a tree branch a few feet above me, screeched at me, and flew off. In the woods behind me, a vireo sung its exultant song—cheerful little bastard. A few yards to the side, a pair of beady-eyed chickadees chittered and buzzed, exhibiting purpose such as I did not possess. A small spider climbed onto my jeans and scurried halfway across before I flicked it away.
I looked at the sky. It was cloudless, a dome of blue. To the west, the sun shone above distant hills, where in a few hours it would set. I should return to the pond and get ready to fish. I was about to stand up and do that when something about the sky caught my eye. At first it was raw perception, something before you know it. Then I saw that the entire sky shone with golden light. The light was soft, otherworldly. It shone as if nothing else existed. Its radiance filled my vision, my mind, and my spirit.
Something else caught my eye. To my left, eastward, a cloud was drifting into view. It was as luminous as the sky, tinged with the same gold. And upon it, I suddenly realized, reclined a large being. It emanated the same light as the cloud and the sky, as if it was part of its surroundings. It seemed to be made of that light, without other substance; I could see through it to the sky beyond. But its appearance was more defined than the cloud’s. It was human in form, but bulbous, like a child’s toy, as if you could squeeze it and make it squeak. It had a pudgy torso, arms, and legs, and a round head with two eyes and maybe a nose and mouth. It was larger than human, however, much larger, large enough for me to see on the distant cloud. It lay there at a slight incline, its feet forward and head and shoulders raised, and gazed in the direction of the cloud’s drift. I sensed that it was alive and aware, but I could determine no more than that. It didn’t move. It just lay there, riding the cloud, emanating the golden light. I had never seen anything like it. I was stunned. It’s an angel, I thought. It is gigantic and pudgy, and has no feathered wings, but…it’s an angel!
The cloud and the angel continued their drift. Soon they passed in front of me, halfway across the sky. The angel hadn’t moved. Then, abruptly, it did move. It turned its head toward me and looked right at me—at me and into me, to greater depths than I had ever known or imagined. The look lasted only a moment, a glance, but that was enough, for it conveyed a message.
The message electrified me, and changed my life. As well as I can translate it from angelic radiance into words, it was this: “Relax, Vassal. Everything is fine.” The angel’s look embodied that message, and evoked it from everything around and within me. It struck me body and soul, rang me like a bell, sang to and from every fiber of my being. And it transformed me, putting an end to my unhappiness. I had been a typically overwrought young adult. Now, the burdens that I had been bearing—my torpor, confusion, and the rest of my plagued inwit—disappeared. My anxious interior chatter ceased, replaced by a blessed silence.
Its message delivered, the angel turned away and resumed facing forward, continuing its journey. The radiance of the sky, cloud, and angel held deeper meaning for me now. It pervaded everything. Everything emanated it, including the pond below me, the forest near and far, the creatures of the woods and water, and I myself. Its source was everything everywhere, and it shone upon everything everywhere, at once cause and effect. It brought everything to life and it was everything’s life. The universe, every universe, was made of nothing else. All things were one and the same, identical, while at the same time lacking none of the differences by which we distinguish one from another.
The radiance illuminated for me a reality that I believe all people sense, but that usually abides beyond our consciousness. I began to think of it as “the more real than real”, a truth of truths, than which there is no other. On that afternoon, as I sat on my ridgetop perch and watched the angel and cloud drift toward the western horizon, that reality was tangible to me. I basked in it. My every thought thought it, and every feeling felt it. I felt fortunate to be experiencing it so directly.
When the angel and the cloud passed out of sight beyond the hills, I turned my head and looked the other way, toward the east. More angels were approaching, a host of them, each on a separate cloud. They sailed in front of me in ragged parade, some higher in the sky, some lower, some ahead or behind. Like the first angel, they seemed alive and aware, but this time none looked at me or acknowledged me. There was no need for that. By their nature, by all nature, they saw and acknowledged everything at once, including me and my bit of light. I watched them until they drifted out of sight.
Afterward, alone again, I felt boundless bliss. The angels were gone, but they were with me, too. And so they have remained. Despite difficulties that I, like anyone, have encountered, they and their universal light have remained present to me. Whenever and wherever I look for them, I see them and am strengthened by them. Always, seeing them puts a kind of end to any unease, discomfort, want, or suffering I might be experiencing. On that day by the pond, when they showed themselves to me for the first time and gave their light to me, they changed me, saved me, with saving grace.
* * *
At my seat on the floor of the Stone Age cave, the angels were with me and not, as usual. I struggled to my feet, feeling stiff in my knees. I wanted to make my way in darkness, so I left my flashlight turned off. I crouched again to avoid the stone ceiling, and shuffled back the way I had come, guided by my memory of the passageway, the feel of the walls beside me, and the sound of open space ahead of me. A few minutes later I came to the entrance. I paused just inside. Outside it was dark; the sun had set. I felt a breeze on my face, coming from the sea, and I heard the slow rhythm of waves pushing onto the shore. I turned on my flashlight and aimed it ahead. In its beam I saw the dirt path leading away. I leaned forward to step out. As I did, I felt a heavy blow on the top of my head. I staggered, almost knocked over. My legs quivered. I fell to my knees.
The pain subsided. I pointed my flashlight upward. The stone across the top of the entrance was set lower than the others. I had not bowed low enough to pass beneath it. Had the ancient builders placed it lower for structural reasons? Or to serve as a threshold whose purpose was to encourage humility—to beat unwary heads like mine against it, to clobber anyone foolish enough to walk too tall?
I knelt there, angry and sorry for myself. My injury cast doubt on my belief that I had insight into this place or, angels or not, into anything. I imagined some of the ancient people, my forebears, grinning at me across the centuries, their faces as creviced as the worn stones around me. Their grins twisted into me, provoking demons within me that I could not escape.
Shriveled, dizzy, my head aching, I reached to the stone above me to steady myself, and rose again to a crouch. My legs resumed shaking. I bent as low as I could and stepped outside. Clear of the entry, I stood up, took off my hat, and looked inside it with my flashlight. A blot of my blood and hair stuck to the crown. The sea breeze made the gash on my head feel cold. I touched the spot and stared at the red smear on my fingertip. I shuddered. My teeth chattered. I took my hat in both hands, raised it over my head, and lowered it gently.
END of CHAPTER
No Way?, below, has been selected for the 2018 Newton Open Studios Winter Juried Show. The exhibition will take place in the Newton City Hall Gallery, on the 2nd floor of City Hall, from January 8 through February 23. There will be a reception there on Wednesday, January 10, from 7-8:30pm. The jurors are Ellen Wineberg and Cathleen Daley of Room 83 Spring in Watertown.
PHOTOGRAPHY, GRAPHIC ART, TAPESTRY, & MORE
by 3 artists: Ellen Fisher, Ellen Kaplovitz
and Marcus Parsons
Saturday, November 4, 12–5 pm
All are welcome. We hope you’ll come by!
If you know others who might like to come, please invite them.
Details and preview here.
NOTE: Images can enlarge for a closer look. Just tap or click.