The Able Wells of Our Souls



I remember the living room in which paintings just like this hung … right in my aunt’s living room, the room I would sleep in when I slept over rolled up tightly in a sleeping bag like a captured bat in burlap. I was captivated by the two paintings she had hanging on her living room wall … at first I believed these to be mass-produced paintings, but they are real paintings by a real artist, Margaret Keane. And I don’t know what is more interesting to think about: an artist conceiving of these children and then executing them so oddly and beautifully … or imagining them being made in a Sears factory alongside numerous thousands of those flush and exhaustive couch paintings.

Keane’s paintings are entrancing … and I was entranced. Normally saucer-eyed organisms would have sent me into one of my all-too-common childhood fits of trauma, but they didn’t. I was petrified of the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy and many other typically beloved characters of childhood, but I was not frightened at all by these creepy little kids staring down at me as I slept. Actually they were a source of comfort to me … loving my aunt but missing my mom who slept miles away from me. I was encapsulated in a safe little cubby much like many of the environs surrounding the children in Keane’s paintings.

Was Keane purely portraying innocence or a sinister darkness that she possibly saw surrounding our children?

This intrigue of Keane reminds me a lot of the intrigue of eccentric children’s author, Dare Wright. These two women saw innocence and beauty in what many people may think to be creepy and dark, maybe even stripped of innocence.

I think of these now, sparked by a recent dream of them. As usual I was lost and being taunted … but this time I was rescued by children much like Keane’s. They led me to an endless, grassy stamp of land that looked so photographic. I was suddenly safe even though I was so much in the open … I think I felt safe because I felt a part of a painting, not actually out in the open and hurtful world. But then there were the staple staircases winding every which way that are always in my dreams … and that sound of the sea whether or not I can see one. I can never find a decent interpretation of my dreams but I am certain dreams mean something … windows, wells into our souls and deep pits of our minds … kind of like the eyes of Keane’s creations never being able to shut.



Published in: on August 28, 2007 at 10:25 pm  Comments (2)  

Indeed I wonder about the boy missing his toy


I spent a good part of Saturday at North Beach in South Haven, Michigan. I am trying desperately to make up for lost beach time since I only recently acquired a bathing suit. It was cold and dark and sprinkling a lot and this gave the day an ominous feel. While walking among the houses of “the other half of human existence” I saw a lawn with white chairs umbrellaed by the umbrellas of wedding guests. I hear this is good luck, rain on your wedding day … I guess they will see. I have been getting cynical about love lately, it seeming a little like smoke and mirrors, an optical illusion for the heart — an aortic illusion perhaps?

And then that tiny tragedy made the day a little more shadowed in something emotional and moody for me. On my beach walk I found a toy airplane stuck, nose first in the sand. It looked like a tiny plane crash, a tiny tragedy. I kept walking and a poem began to come. I sat down and began to write. Then I went back to the deserted airplane, picked it up and kept it. I do not know why I was compelled to take it. Maybe because it looked so tragic, maybe as a reminder of the plane’s look and the discovery of it to my exceedingly bad memory as I wrote the poem, maybe because I felt its life as a toy had ended with this tragedy and would never recover. It needed a reincarnation of sorts. The expanse of the lake at that moment reminded me a little of the expanse of the ocean … the swimming secrets of life going about their day beneath the dark surface like stock brokers — rush, rush, persue and consume.

Rain is to continue for the rest of the week and I keep thinking it is somehow interesting to think that while I am plummeted with wet, a friend of mine is experiencing sand-inflicted pains in the desert.

But I am not heartless about the airplane theft … I do sincerely wonder about the boy missing his toy.

Published in: on August 20, 2007 at 3:59 pm  Comments (2)