A time-lapse video showing the process of Erica Elan Ciganek painting “Miriam: Through the Parting” (oil on MDF, 49" x 36", 2015). The song, “Draw Up the Sun”, is by Ryan Ciganek and features the band Sombra (Adam Nelson, Maggie Hubbard, Erica, Ryan).
Morning throttles Jax’s motor,
lowers her frost skirt for him,
if someone else’s bride. Let Lambs work their way up class ladders with Starter hats and Nikes, he
thinks when Colleen clicks past
ignoring catcalls, heels snapping concrete,
a jar of maraschino cherries jiggling, ready
to be tossed into her Alka-Seltzer
before she drops wasp-waisted onto the
stage apron, owing nothing to no man
and off all day tomorrow.
My husband calls me the “energizer bunny,” says my hummingbird metabolism matches my bird-brittle frame, says what I call my low-energy days are more animated than his at top speed, even though when we met, our youth behind us, I’d slowed down to a mellower pace, and we’re yin and yang now, we balance each other, but thirty years ago we’d have been oil and water—“You shoulda seen me then,” I say and tell him about my younger self, a scrawny kid, my worried parents thought me frail and undernourished in spite of my voracious appetite and boundless energy, so my mother would pack two overstuffed sandwiches in my lunch with chips, fruit and cookies, and after school she’d make milkshakes with eggs and banana plus a PBJ or two to fatten me up, but I would eat and eat and not gain an ounce, and that was still true at thirty when a boyfriend told me I’d be sexier, more attractive if I put on a few pounds; he found no fault at first, but soon started carping about one thing or another, like—it should have been a warning—when I said I wasn’t a good dancer but he sweet-talked me onto the floor and I waited for praise, however false—come on, flatter me—but “You’re a terrible dancer,” he said, “stiff as a board, lighten up,” and I slithered away humiliated, but when he said, “You should wear more makeup,” I did—pathetic, huh?—and his reproach followed me into the bedroom until finally I’d had enough of his verbal battering, but at least I never tried to gain weight for him, and in fact the stress of the weeks and months as the relationship ground down caused me to lose weight, “ha, that’ll show him,” I thought, and after we split, the taut strings of my psyche loosened and I relaxed and gained a few pounds, and when I ran into him months later he noticed and said something grudgingly complimentary, and I smirked, I said yes, it’s amazing what being happy can do for a girl’s figure, and while I’m older and happier now I still move quickly and stay trim though I work at it now, stop eating before I’m full, because I can still put it away. Like a hummingbird.
Did you know that hummingbirds consume more than their weight in nectar each day but are always mere hours away from starving to death since they store just enough energy to survive overnight, so they visit hundreds of flowers daily and remember all the flowers, all the feeders in their territory, eating for short spells seven times an hour yet spending only fifteen percent of their time feeding and the rest of it digesting and maybe, like me, planning and thinking about and tracking down the next meal, the next sip of fuchsia or slice of pizza.
Each hue is defined by wave length
or frequency. How often or far apart.
The inconvenience of closeness, or
the memory of longing for
harmonic intervals of light
filtered through the human eye
and, sometimes, the mechanical eye,
yet how we discriminate these wave lengths
is not well understood (in light
of other things we know) and apart
from corresponding frequencies for
each prismatic color or
manifestation of color or
what resides harmoniously in the eye,
there is an equivalent harmony for
the musical ear, which collects length
and time, and, in turn, plays a part
in the generation of light
but cannot identify single tones of light,
like notes fingered on a piano or
a cello plucked as part
of an orchestra performed at the center of the eye.
To take red, any length
of red, and mistake it for
the afterimage of green, for
the deposit of complementary light,
is to speak of harmony to some length
and the joining of two or
more colors behind the eye,
pretending like vision is not a part
of what makes the body a part
of a machine for
forgetting. What makes the eye
not a tool for collecting, but for losing light.
To suggest that the human eye is satisfied, or
in equilibrium, is to deny the comfort of length,
the redemption of length,
the restlessness of length, or
the longing for memory of light.