Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Under the Moon

Three thousand habitable planets in the known universe, and I’m stuck on the only one without much oxygen.
En-closed by acres of unexploited, uneven, and protected land, dried yellowing leaves, brittle and crumbling, swing from the resin edges of wrinkled branches. Left side and right, Lover Trees, the camouflaging colour of amber, between yellow and brown, surprise and promise, have thick and open branches. Like gracious giants holding out tiny living bugs to blow oxygen in them - the weight of their puff crushing them. Their oxygen saves and smothers. Can these oversized creatures save them from their own natural make-up? A Lover Tree at once a disappearing ant lugging his shelter to his colony!

The sun set on September 21st, 2020.
No signs suggest that human life inhabits this removed spot on the universe. The only dwellers on this hilly terrain are passing birds, breathing trees and breeding creatures.
An intervention is called upon.
On this virgin earth, an oblong graveyard, a stage, emerges, the soil unfertilized, invisible tombs in white pebbles, outline their hollow places. The graveyard is large enough to house five parked trucks, instead…

The stage, and its surroundings, is almost bare.
Stones, goggles, flags, twigs, posts, binoculars, naked bodies, a moon.
Had any human trekked around here before us?
Maybe some life-form could draw this hiding-place
away from civilization’s contents.
It’s an experiment.
How long will this secret survive its own surface?
Lonely insects below and untouchable birds above.
In-between, no humans, no humanoids?
Above rumbles a dense and vaporous sky,
brick and cream,
gripping the beat of birds slithering through it.
No life is threatened, if it rains or not.
The moon coils.
It’s an experiment.

it hosts five bodies. Three female and two male dancers cross into defined craters, trembling horizontally and engulfing the white open-air with their flaming flesh uncovered. A stage to perform a frenzied death under the meek light of an encircling moon. Oval stones, grains of sand, falling leaves, the size of an eagle’s wings.

Tension lingers. Will the white and grey birds meet half-way with the creatures crawling on this land? Is something on the verge of becoming? The wind is a feather, gliding side to side, barely brushing the ground and flying high again. It whirls between what is here, visible, or not, and not quite there. Faint. Perhaps. The moon is at its fullest. Light seeps onto the stage. It falls like the velvet curtain of a stage first being drawn to bring the audience into the show.
Two clear boxes with thirty pairs of binoculars and oxygen masks divide the audience from the stage. Spiky twigs wrapped in cellophane sketch the stage in these words:
Welcome to the theatre of raging dance. Please do not remove any of these letters from around the stage. They are here to protect our craters from being infiltrated by any kind of species. Living things-humans-androids- humanoids. Please take a pair of binoculars and an oxygen mask. Welcome to the land of the free, and the edgy, and the naked.
Around this open graveyard, a beaming audience kneels in a semi-circle. Thirty people hover over a stage, with eyes penetrating and bodies twitching in anticipation. One by one they take an oxygen mask, and binoculars.
At the far left corner of the stage, two round flags, eight feet high and upright, pose mightily on their black posts, confronting each other. There are three circles of colours in both flags. White spot, flesh dot, dark tan blotch. In the white spot of the flag positioned at the very end of the stage, seven little words are kept from the audience.
Only through binoculars or under blinding white light do these words begin to come alive.
A malleable door separates the flags. A white nylon gate covered in tiny holes, opens to the audience. The stage fades, behind it. Ahead, language begins.

Moving, watch us, waiting, scared, have fun, dress yourself, lights on, laughing, fiddling fingers, whispering neighbours, shut the boxes, hold hands, talk to us, engine on full speed, tickle society. We are here.

Like rabbits bouncing from their hidden holes and peeping into a new-found world, dancers leap out of their shallow gaps. Naked, they stand. Contours and colours of bodies are discernible under the engorging moonlight. Black glass goggles for eyes, and wet towels wringed with glistening sweat wrap around their necks. From right to left,
dancer with olive green towel…chestnut skin, firm arms and legs
amber towelled dancer…pink skin, peach-sized breasts and a pinched stomach
dancer white…pale and petite, playful, her hair tied in a pink fish-net
sapphire towel D…tall, black, bony and beer-bellied
iridescent red towel…loose dark brown hair and square shoulders

Mouths gape. One foot and a half above and in front of their craters, the performers point to their organs, one by one, miming their names with their lips.
Heart on knee, lungs pushing, liver hiding, head in hands, toe wiggling, vagina thrusting, shoulder jolting, spine crawling, fingers drumming, testicles swelling...
Mouths gape again.

Her arms folded around her knees, Amber towelled dancer crouches by Dancer with olive green towel. ‘Go. Start. Go’, she yelps. The first sounds heard on stage come from a human voice. Her mouth still deep open, her goggles follow his footprints in the soil. From his crater he pulls a plastic container, the size of an individual lunch box. Out fall the contents…a transparent straw, two round black stones, a slender orange rope three feet long, and a red fountain pen. He prods her left goggle with the straw. Amber towelled dancer winks at him and stands up to face him. Her breasts swollen with pride indicate that they are part of her own body. He ties her feet loosely with the orange rope, rests each stone in her open palms, and with his fountain pen writes on her bare stomach, ‘let’s play death’. Her jaw wide open, he slips in the straw and breathes into it with his salivating mouth. His boiling oxygen-her suspended oxygen-dancer white’s eruptive oxygen-sapphire towel D’s horizontal oxygen-iridescent red towel’s observant oxygen? Whose oxygen is burning? Amber towelled dancer and Dancer with olive green towel freeze in this instance.

Sapphire towel D and iridescent red towel salute one another, cheek to cheek and goggle to goggle. Hips collide. Sweat drips between their foreheads falling into the crevice of red’s towelled throat. Saliva creeps from her cavernous mouth. She sighs heavily, three times in a row. Their eyes absorbed in the goggles. In a quick thrust, Sapphire towel D breaks away, shrouding himself in the perforated white nylon. Flags apart, he lays between them.
Iridescent red re-mains…cheeks in white air, goggles doubling the next dive back into her crater, without yet moving. Sapphire towel D is wearing the gate between fate, miles of estrangement from species gurgling, and style, yawning letters moving images.
H – E – L – P… THIS FLAG HAS SKIN. IT BREATHES. Like the spherical eyes of an owl at midnight, the words on the flag light up, as Sapphire towel D coils around it. The white gate between the flags is a fragile film contouring his flesh, his organs under an x-ray. Flags de-part. Skin connects. Iridescent red jumps in mid-air, then lands, aimlessly and tenderly, like an ivory quill, on the flag by Sapphire towel D. Leaning against the flag, she rests her foot on his curved head.
Flags of freedom, individual or species-national? Flags celebrating rage while the audience is enthralled in a performance of human voices? Or are they flags commemorating the divorce or union of the sexes? Sapphire and Iridescent red and Dancer white. Joined and distant. Lost and delicate planets in the universe coupling in communication and bursting in solid space.
Dancer white hops over to them. With her mouth still wide open, the goggles fastened around her head, and her white towel now a wet necklace, she rubs her soiled side against Sapphire towel D. Her body curves into his, like two embracing C’s.

Dancer white. I want to tell you something!
Sapphire towel D. Can I touch you?
Dancer white. This morning I felt like my left eye was in the back of my head.
Sapphire towel D. I picked up your binoculars when you dropped them.
Dancer white. I had two faces.
Sapphire towel D. Where is my tongue?
Dancer white. Two different places, at once, to look at.
Sapphire towel D. I can’t smell my tongue.
Dancer white. Moved back and forth all morning.
Sapphire towel D. I gave you the binoculars.
Dancer white. My binoculars fell?
Sapphire towel D. You dropped them.
Dancer white. Listen to me, please! I have something to tell…
Sapphire towel D. Can I touch your tongue? (puts his finger out to touch
Iridescent red’s face, but can’t reach her. Her foot still sleeping on his head)
Iridescent red. It was a watermelon day today. Red - round - refreshing.
Sapphire towel D. My index finger is fuzzy.
Iridescent red. The moon is a translucent watermelon. Lustrous, it grows inside a fragile coating.
Sapphire towel D. My tongue, your tongue, whose tongue?
Dancer white. My eye in the back of my head sees clearer than my right
Sapphire towel D. Your skin is soft inside, like fresh honey. Outside you’re as
unbending as a bee’s nest. (to Dancer white)
Iridescent red. Bouncing from day to night, from crater to crater, and planet to planet.
Sapphire towel D. Can I turn you inside out? (unlocks himself from Dancer white. Iridescent red holds onto the flag while Sapphire rises boldly to his feet, bends over to get a clear view of his crater, and with his buttocks to the audience throws off his goggles and dives into his crater.)
Iridescent red. The night is dark.
Dancer white. I want to tell you something! (she leaps over to the audience, kneeling, she peels off the pink fish-net from her head)
Sapphire towel D. I feel like tearing you apart. Can I? (bellows to Dancer white)

Amber towelled dancer and Dancer with olive green towel unfreeze from their locked moment. The straw breaks loose from their mouths and they separate, breathing their own way to their craters. Iridescent red covers herself in the white nylon gate and lays between the flags.

appeared in Arteri arts magazine