10.17.11: Looking Glass Rock, Moab

October 19, 2011

This was our second attempt at Looking Glass Rock. The first time, the wind shoved us off the first pitch. As we packed our gear in defeat, a man appeared from behind the east fin. He began pulling baby rattlesnakes from the cracks with a bent wire hanger and taking photos.

I like to come by and check on how they’re growing. Most people don’t even know they’re here.

There were no snakes this time. Just the desert quiet and the occasional blaze of wind across the plains. Three sandy, slabby pitches, following a straight line of bolts winking silver in the sun. There was an odd trio of bolts  at the summit that fooled us for a moment before we spotted the real rappel station.

Cheeky bastards, Matt said. We have to drop through the keyhole to get down. They say the route was first climbed by local cowboys.

I watched as he slipped through the opening. Listened as he reached the ground. I was ready before his yell (I’m down!) stopped echoing in the vast church-like amphitheater. My turn.

The trick to a free hanging rappel is to stay still. Steady your breath. Keep a firm hand on the rope. Be deliberate. Slow. Calm. There’s a grace to lowering your body through hundreds of feet of open air. Don’t look down — look through the porthole on your left. Blue sky. Endless scrub and sagebrush. As you drop lower, concentrate on the grit of sand and slight burning of rope in your palm and a primitive sense of ownership. The desert is immense, but you conquered this part of it.

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Porto C.

July 26, 2009

We wait while he wipes down the bar and locks the doors, then pile into his small, dark car. The blonde Marine with the off kilter American accent sits in the passenger seat.

(His wife is asleep — tired from the beach, he says — but we all know they’ve been fighting.

No, that’s not true. I didn’t know. The bartender tells me.)

He’s too young to be married. Too pretty. I tell him this.

You’re too young and pretty to be married.

He laughs and smiles like a movie star. I see why they fight.

Porto C. is yellow shorts and dropped ice creams during the day, but empty at night. We go the wrong way down one way streets and park diagonally at the curb.

We stop at a small and bright bar. I can tell it isn’t summer yet — it’s nearly empty and there are no fireflies. Or maybe that’s just an American thing.

We take pulls on strong beers and peel wet labels. The boys slam each other’s bottles against the counter, pull faces, drink too quickly to beat the foam.

We go to a moonlit beach that I will never find again.

(We tried the next day, got lost, and were cursed at for ignoring road signs.)

On the ride home, warm, soaked to the waist, salt drying on my bare legs, trip-hop beats shudder out open windows and sand shimmers beneath my toes.

accidents

July 24, 2009

You dropped one of my drinking glasses. Nothing special, just one of a set. I bruise my knee and tear my tights picking up the pieces. Glass shards cling like teary glitter.

It’s fine, I say.

And then I walk into the dark and I pick the sharp sparkles from my knees and throw them in the grass.

And when we talk again, it is fine.

(You prepare for the plain things to be broken.)

05.23.09: Venezia Santa Lucia

July 21, 2009

In the train station, we sat on our packs against a steel door beneath the schedule board. When it shuffled overhead, we took turns looking. Everyone ran out, heads craned upwards, running and returning like a round—my turn? the clattering of tiles like heels on a dance floor. Is it our turn?

might as well

July 21, 2009

I plucked the petal stuck to your cheek where I kissed you. Count one, two, three, you love me. My snow cone melts beside me on the bench, blue spots spreading through wax paper. We pressed our foreheads to the metal railings and counted the city windows blinking like Christmas lights. Our silhouettes are dark and shaky in the harbor below and the petal goes floating above our watery heads. Count one, two, three, you love me not. You will not call for three days.

If I could sing, I’d go on stage wearing a blue dress and high heels. The heels are too high, so I’d step out of them and place them by the stage lights. And I’d sing and wave and say hello! Hello! Can you hear me?

05.22.09: Venezia

July 20, 2009

in venice, i remembered anthony bourdain’s advice and got lost, turned opposite the arrows painted on the buildings. and there were endless crooked alleys and scaffolding with blue tarps, like giant forts with cafe chairs tucked between metal pole legs. we drink black espresso standing by the window in the wall that is also the door. i find a shop where an old man makes fantastical things out of single pieces of wood–giant paintbrushes leaning against tubes of paint, a broken down shoe taller than you with laces in a knot, a trenchcoat with gloves stuffed in the pocket. he says i may take just one picture, so i turn in circles and finally i just close my eyes and press the shutter. click.

05.21.09: Firenze, part 2

July 20, 2009

The girl artist sits in the middle of the street, props her elbow on her knee, her chin on her elbow. She twirls chalk between her dirty fingers. She is drawing a Vermeer face on the pavement. I took a picture of the face on the ground, of the delicate pearl earring. I took a picture of the wrong thing.

05.21.09: Firenze, part 1

July 20, 2009

Before sunset, we walk through brick alleyways toward the old bridge. We wait to cross with a group of French schoolkids with navy backpacks and colored neckerchiefs, the boys with that slight, dampish look and the girls with short skirts and innocent kohl-lined eyes.

There are men in crisp black suits and brown shoes on motorscooters and on the corner, a photoshoot. The models straddle a Vespa–the man in white pants and a cabled sweater, the woman in scarlet lipstick and her high heels making black marks on his white, white pants as they smile blindly into a foil sun. It is summer and they are hot.

05.21.09

July 17, 2009

i sent you a postcard with the view from my window…. except the view was better because they used a photographer and it was taken a few decades ago (but that’s the thing about these places, you can never tell when, you can only tell where)

i wrote only one word because there were too many.

05.20.09

July 17, 2009

the dark-haired boy on the metro wore sunglasses, even while we hurried through the tunnels and all the lights went out. all you could hear was cool, dark air tickling your earlobes while you rock on your feet and all of a sudden, you realize: oh. i’m in italy. and then the lights come back and the sun shines through windows colored like stained glass with graffiti.