There was an ant carrying a blue dragonfly tail. He had travelled so far with it, across a land of frayed white wood, over knots and nails and patches of lichen, past crevices that opened onto the dark waters below. He did not let go and he did not fall. But then, somehow, the tail got stuck under a stick. He pulled and pulled, using every bit of his strength. He tried every angle. He lifted it in his pinchers and swung it side to side. He maneuvered and let go, stepped away and stepped back again. How could he leave his hard-earned prize? Sometimes it happens that the unseen powers will intervene and lift the stick.
When the fish are born they appear as millions on the shoreline, as far as the eye can see. In the golden shallows they play with the reflections, learning how to blend in. This is how thoughts work. They seem real, but it depends on how I look at them, against what background, with my mind or my heart. They are black, luminous blue, electric, zebra-striped. They move as one body, in lateral lines or in spheres. I walk through them, sending vibrations through the water. I can sense them, but not touch them. I swim out and imagine how they disperse like rays of light. I think of how each little fleck can become a big fish, how it will travel out and populate the lake. Some will be eaten and caught on hooks, some will descend into the shadowy depths, only to surface from time to time. A ring on the smooth surface, a sign of life from below.
I saw the cats running. There was an eruption in the forest, bushes snapping, a rush of leaves, a robin’s high-pitched alarm, a squealing and screeching. The white and grey striped cat with one blind eye had pinned something down. I pushed her away, grabbed her by the shoulders, and with my other hand spread the leaves apart to unveil a baby robin. I took it in my hands, its tufted feathers and white speckled breast, still warm, its dark eye half closed, seeing me. The mother flew branch to branch calling. Where should I put him? I saw a high fork in a maple tree. The little bird suddenly fluttered in my hands. I put him gently into the fork and he went still. It was the flutter of life before death, the great impulse to be free.
Mariposa is a painting that took seven years to arrive.
My stepmother had a vision about an empty window in her old barn wall. She saw a horse there, looking out. She gave me the measurements and I started work on a piece of canvas. This half-finished painting got packed away and forgotten in my many moves, from the blue cabin to the trailer in the swamp, to Africa and Costa Rica, to the red cabin. Meanwhile, my stepmother and my father travelled back and forth between their two houses, and to Mexico, until, one day, they came home for good. My father sold his house and moved across the province to her house. The painting was completely erased from memory.