"Lotus Opening" by L. Folk

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Five Collages

Here are five of my latest collages.

Bouquet for Life

This time of year, when I see pictures of gardens, I literally start to itch for green and lush and bloom. I look forward to planting my garden and starting seeds, which will happen the end of next month. It's a lesson in patience, waiting out winter for spring, but also a time to plan and set intentions. The red petals of the bouquet remind me of a heart.

Winter's House

This collage is my way of not taking winter too seriously. It was actually created in the midst of summer; this brings to mind what Neil Diamond famously said about writing songs: you write breakup songs when you are happily in love and love songs when you are breaking up. The yin is always curious about the yang.

The centerpiece in this collage is actually a tulip that I disassembled and then reassembled to look more like a flame, which I intend to mean essence. For me, that essence, that thing I need to keep burning, is my creativity.


Natural Urges

This collage portrays summer and sensuality. I was primarily looking for patterns and colors of the natural world when life is warm and easy.

Lotus Opening
I titled this collage "Lotus Opening" without knowing that the opening of a lotus represents spiritual awakening. I Googled "lotus opening" and found this out. There is something always working behind the scenes of art, and it's when you become aware and curious that you see what it is. 

I suppose if I am living my life correctly, I am always in the throes of a spiritual awakening.

The Fallen Land of Ozymandias

The Fallen Land of Ozymandias
(from the flash fiction collection Upon Waking)

She was angry with her mother for buying a beaten down cape in New Jersey, half a mile from an overpass, three quarters of a mile from a beach littered with abandoned cars, old tires, and discarded clothing. It was ugly and she hated ugly. She lamented her mother leaving the well-preserved beauty of the New England landscape, but her mother could no longer afford it. She told her daughter if she had to move, she'd go south, to the mid-Atlantic states where she could be closer to extended family. So she did, and her daughter begrudgingly went to visit her and walk the coarse sand of the polluted beach where someone had dumped cabinets and suitcases. Her mother said it might have been the mob. The daughter regarded the tall smoke stacks as they belched fumes into the gray sky and felt ill.

After lunch, she took a ride east. It was sunny and she drove with the windows down, the songs from the radio hampered by the din of the wind. The land, with its enclaves of reaching blue water, was buzzing with summer activity; people were out jogging, riding bicycles. She passed a carnival with a Ferris wheel and games of chance. Tickets littered the streets; people waited in lines for rides and concession stands where food associated with fun—cotton candy, ice cream, fried dough—was sold. She passed this place and came to a bridge, a contemporary slender and elegant structure in decks, towers, and fanning cables that spanned the inlets of blue, connecting the polluted modern world with the eroded ancient ruins of the old world. It was a fine summer day now. Indeed, the water is blue, she thought. On the other side of the bridge was the abandoned land of Ozymandias, its once enchanting sandstone structures still in place. Here people wandered through the ruins and pocketed ancient gold coins embossed with the King of Kings.

She parked the car, got out and squeezed through an opening in the giant gate. There were people carrying stacks of books in the ancient streets, looters with scraps of fool's gold in their hands. Vendors were selling trinkets of the once-great kingdom; you could buy a t-shirt with Ozymandias's eroded face on it. She remembered the pope they dug out of the Catacombs, his well-preserved body on display at the Vatican, the face looking calcified.

The earth shuddered and she thought Did I imagine that? The great gate creaked and leaned forward, spreading its arms out to the forgotten world. The people carrying books dropped them and started running. Chaos and mayhem ensued as each of the ancient sandstone structures started to crumble. Why now? she wondered. After thousands of years of being upright, why now? Then she saw a high school friend on her cell phone just outside the gate. She was still thin, with long black hair, a cigarette in her hand, imperturbable as the world rushed by her. She must’ve been talking to her high school sweetheart. She would take him back, despite what he did, despite what she did—a forgiveness poised at the end of the world.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

New Year's Day

We walked in the snow down to the river. The air was deeply cold, biting when the wind blew. But the sun shown bright in this crystalized world, and there was evidence of life, tracks in the snow, raccoon, coyote, dog, human, bird. At the banks of the river, the ice has broken; the moon pulled the tide in and now there is this emerald-green pool swollen at the bend. It looks inviting, and if I had fur, I would contemplate diving in. My dog moves toward the pool with an eagerness that scares me. She has the fur--is the river calling to her as well? I beckon her to me, tempt her with a treat and we walk on in this transposed arctic land.

Thoughts of the Jack London story "To Build a Fire" shift in my head. The man in the cold. The man with the matches in his hands. The man unable to light the match. Fumbling. The snow falling on the fire. His thoughts of sticking his hands inside the dog to keep them warm. The dog getting away. The dog more suited to the environment. The dog as survivor.

This is something I have been trying to wrap my head around lately, how the animals survive in this environment. Their adaptations to such severity seem nothing short of miraculous. As a human, I am exempt from this miracle. I am handicapped in this world.

We make our way to the second bend in the river and the wind is so mean across my face, I decide to turn around. Josie bounds ahead. The story says fifty degrees below zero. Do you feel more pain in fifty degrees below zero than you do five? I dangle here, knowing how vulnerable I am. But this is nothing new. I spend my life acutely aware of how vulnerable I am. More attention needs to be given to the strengths, the talents, the skills. The adaptations.