Bald eagle perches tree top winter barren gray and stares at stunted pines. Hawk, head tucked under massive wings reaching for distant stars rides a thermal coaster waiting for squirrels. Hills cry out raging against dawn tears flow puddling in footprints of a distant god.
The salmon people don’t live here anymore you have moved them up the river, then inland so they no longer need to wander.
The salmon do not swim here anymore you have dammed the rivers to draw out their power and penned the mighty fish where the river first licks the sea.
The eagle doesn’t fly here anymore the great pines that sat for generations below his aerie are now cut into neat supports on which we hang our walls.
Our children do not run here anymore they have moved to the cities, have gone off to wars for fighting is the only job which they are given.
We have no rivers we have no salmon we have no sons, save those who sleep under neat white stones. We look for the eagle a mighty spirit but he, too, has been claimed by the others to decorate their buildings. We have only our spirit to guide us and we know that soon you will claim them too and leave us as you arrived to repeat the sad story.
As you walk through this particular space will you see a small child perched on a stool, crayons in hand, a small rectangle of paper on the top of the desk laughing, creating a world you could never hope to understand, or an older woman, leaning on her walker, staring into the canvas, struggling to see each brush stroke and three workmen white hard hats, retractable rules and laser levels, measuring the gallery against the blueprint which are artists — which is art — does it matter?
They appear at the margins, peeking out. They are teasing, revealing just a bit, alluring, but we know they are holding back. It is a delicacy at which we marvel for we know it is a matter of days before they end this dance, drop their veils. Even the faintest hint of their perfume is intended to entrap us, to draw us closer, certain that once their hook is set, our addiction will overwhelm us and we will return again and again, unable to say to ourselves “it is this they count on, and year after year we do not fail them.” In days this burlesque will end, they will show all, and we, drunk with lust, will give into our baser passions and pledge ourselves to their soon fading beauty.
I thought I heard a woman singing somewhere in the distance, an ethereal song whose melody floated over me, dropping momentarily into my consciousness then as quickly flitting away. I walked off the carefully tended path stepped into the clutching brush, the smell of Juniper filled the air. Pushing through a thicket I thought I saw a woman retreating into the trees but the melody lingered and I sat and listened never seeing the singer only hearing the song.