Blackness On the Vine is a performance piece written for and inspired by the performance art/literary series, Ghostland. This piece was specifically crafted for Ghostland’s dream themed event.
I could smell the ocean air as I woke with a dryness, skin already peeling. I opened my eyes to the blinding light that magnified sand crystals populating my lips. I guess it’s time. I guess it’s time to go now. But I was so hungry and I didn’t have the heart to make meals of the crustaceans or the fish. They are me. I am them after all of this wandering alive.
Wiping remnants of land, sands from my cheeks, shaking them free from my baby hairs. Rinsing my mouth with salt water, sacrificing the plankton. Burnishing the taste to the safety of my flesh body. Sacred safekeeping, what treasure.
As I came to stand, finally, I wrote a farewell story in the mud, a name I remembered of someone. I wondered at the reason for such a formality, in naming things, people, animals, plants, objects – but couldn’t think of a thing. Sometimes this land is like that; terribly formal with an ambivalent nostalgia. Nostalgic with no foresight of seasons and necessary change. In my melancholy air, I was projecting a homesickness; for I wasn’t certain if or when I’d meet the ocean again.
All I knew, is that it was time to start moving. But I was still hungry.
Miles beyond the eastern coastline, in a land unknown to me yet, there was a meadow of overgrown grasses, wildflower and clay dune. Further in, from green grounds and blue-bladed wisps, I plucked golden daffodil heads and ate them for breakfast. I thumbed blackberries and raspberries from their leafy harnesses, some for now, others for later. I saw deer feeding. I nodded to them and they couldn’t care less about my rationing or understanding of saving things for later times. They eat when they’re hungry, like it should be; when there is plenty of blackness on the vine.
I kept looking in minds eye toward the wandering western hills of the roving lionesses, that I knew would run roaring into craggy rockscapes and waterfalls flowing into effervescent reservoirs. I started out again, breathing slowly and still hungry. I’ll stop when I get to the fruit trees of Melancholia.
Because there was still daylight and the wind was right for it, I began to fly – magnetized to the obsidian glint of the west world.
I passed tiger-lilies and lilac bushes, before goldenrod and miles and miles of hay bales rotting away slowly from the despairing weather. Looking forward and beyond the young landscape, all future appeared darker and more maleficent. Ashing gradients adorned the wildlife like volcano spray gardens.
I would fly a while from a wildness within and then stop and think on this solitary travel. The heart is a lonesome hunter. Lonely often times in wonder and growth. There is a way that happens upon us when we are left alone to roam and forage in youth, in after youth, in alter youth that never leaves us. Isn’t there some fire within these dark tides, isn’t there some power to alight the shadowed hillsides of such a troubled landscape? In another stop with both feet flat on the ground I caught my breath for a while and I could smell sour dirt and rotting fruit in the distance.
As I made my way to the border of Melancholia approaching the Forest of Timeless Darknesses my wings and legs began to grow heavy with a weighty, internal dampness that was unknown to me before. Further in I forced myself into this field of energy, so frozen and without an ounce of lightness. As I paused in exhaustion, my gaze grew desperately toward the fruit trees.
Leafless black figs hung watchfully from above like raven scanning for prey. The forest seemed to yield no other crop and so it was decided that nothing lives here. This made me cautious in many respects, but most immediately because I was still hungry. I took my satchel of blackberry and turned it over in my hand – prunes. Once lush berries bursting with bright juices were now shriveled into sable stones; lacking the former delectable structure, they appeared entirely inedible. I cast them into the dampness. My only option was to reach for this strange fruit, and pray that it alone satiate me.
Wings still martyring, I spent an outstretched hand on the journey up, but I couldn’t quite reach. On tip toes, unbalanced and heavier now, I ushered up and up and up – I could just taste the sweetness on the edge of my desert tongue. Dripping of bloodied vitality, my desire filled this black lobby up. And just as I felt this holy radiance lusting outwardly from these pining extremities I took a step forward thoughtlessly.
And this is how I began to find myself stuck.
The swampland of scattered and crooked trees began to have it’s way with me as it had with so many others before. I had been warned through an intuitive presence that if I began to reflect on darkness with the same despair that matched the cursed weather that I could never return to landscapes of lightness and dreamspeak. But I couldn’t help it. I was also still some form of human, even with these gifted wings and bright eyes to see beyond the the bleakness of the forest.
The struggle made it worse. Fighting and straining, beating my limbs with morbid frustration only allowed me to become more swallowed up. I began to catalog other failures, dark lands where I had found myself before.
Helplessness was not quick to leave me on the exit of my brush with this obscene mortal mirror and relief too did not come so immediately. I sat with my head in my hands for quite a while breathing heavily into my wingspan, shattered within.
When my heart settled back into my chest, I reflected on these darknesses. And as I did, I felt a tingling begin in my fingertips. A language then spoke in a voice not so foreign,
You know, you must beg for it.
My hands together began to separate and I felt this presence so near.
You must learn to beg for these lightnesses, to relieve yourself of the position of imagined pilot. No forceful nature, no matter the name of each will ever bring you this release, for these whiles are fleeting. Even you with all your power cannot alone save you in this darkest hour. You must call on us. You must give us a name and you must not forget that we exist. We are one with the fire that you carry to light a path through the most impossible landscapes.
Although my mind was not made up, I began to harbor trust where before seeded something hollow. Or not hollow, not void, only with human mind merely forgotten for a time.
And with that subtle uncertainty, I could fly again, awhile.