Saturday, July 26, 2014

Flight Behavior

Flight Behavior, 2014
acrylic painting on canvas
8" x 10"
© copyright Mike Kraus

"A small shift between cloud and sun altered the daylight, and the whole landscape intensified, brightening before her eyes.  The forest blazed with its own internal flame.  "Jesus," she said, not calling for help, she and Jesus weren't that close, but putting her voice in the world because nothing else present made sense.  The sun slipped out by another degree, passing its warmth across the land, and the mountain seemed to explode with light.  Brightness of a new intensity moved up the valley in a rippling wave, like the disturbed surface of a lake.  Every bough glowed with an orange blaze.  "Jesus God," she said again.  No words came to her that seemed sane.  Trees turned to fire, a burning bush.  Moses came to mind, and Ezekiel, words from Scripture that occupied a certain space in her brain but no longer carried honest weight, if they ever had.  'Burning coals of fire went up and down among the living creatures.

The flame now appeared to lift from individual treetops in showers of orange sparks, exploding the way a pine log does in a campfire when it's poked.  The sparks spiraled upward in swirls like funnel clouds.  Twisters of brightness against gray sky.  In broad daylight with no comprehension, she watched.  From the tops of the funnels the sparks lifted high and sailed out undirected above the dark forest.  

A forest fire, if that's what it was, would roar.  This consternation swept the mountain in perfect silence.  The air above remained cold and clear.  No smoke, no crackling howl.  She stopped breathing for a second and closed her eyes to listen, but heard nothing.  Only a faint patter like rain on leaves.  Not fire, she thought, but her eyes when opened could only tell her, 'Fire, this place is burning.'  They said, 'Get out of here.'  Up or down, she was unsure.  She eyed the dark uncertainty of the trail and the uncrossable breach of the valley.  It was all the same everywhere, every tree aglow...

...She was on her own here, staring at glowing trees.  Fascination curled itself around her fright.  This was no forest fire.  She was pressed by the quiet elation of escape and knowing better and seeing straight through to the back of herself, in solitude.  She couldn't remember when she's had such room for being.  This was not just another fake thing in her life's cheap chain of events, leading up to this day of sneaking around in someone's thrown-away boots.  Here that ended.  Unearthly beauty had appeared to her, a vision of glory to stop her in the road.  For her alone these orange boughs lifted, these long shadows became a brightness rising.  It looked like the inside of joy, if a person could see that.  A valley of lights, an ethereal wind.  It had to mean something."

-Excerpt by Barbara Kingsolver, "Flight Behavior." 1st ed. New York: Harper Collins, 2012 13-16. Print (

This piece would work in a space that is light green, blue, yellow, beige or on wood.

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