Wednesday, October 24, 2012

No Man

There is a painting, somewhere, of a lone man in a black suit and bowler hat. Standing in a sea of grey. Back turned. Head cocked sideways, and down. Looking for something.

Perhaps everything.

Maybe it was in the impressionism wing of Joslyn. Or SFMOMA. Or maybe you dreamed it up when you felt alone. Painting it up out of words. Adrift (one of those “a”-prefixed words crossword puzzles overuse, your father says). At sea. Like Ocean Beach west of Twin Peaks.

But now here you stand. Faceless, nameless, confused -- and looking for carp.

Wildfire smoke drifting over four states of mountain ranges erases close and familiar peaks, and for the day, you are on the hazy plains. Standing in the mealy water of autumn, after a hot season boiled over. There are still a few days left though. A few days left of sun that pounds its fists down, burning your nose, fading your cap, bleaching streaks into your hair that your mother got with lemon juice in high school.

Underlying ploofs of reservoir mud lead the way. Atomic eruptions of what you’ve done wrong. Of where you haven’t cast or waded quietly enough. Muck grabs your boots, fingers your calves, makes you trip. Cleaning off your glasses, all you’re left to do is wait for the water to calm and for cruisers you can see. Shadows of movement. Nebulous clouds, mirroring what’s above. In the meantime you cast to tires, reflections, wallowing holes, weedbeds.

Show yourself, dammit...you hear over the planes dropping voluntary people out their side-doors.

Looking up -- that ain’t for real -- you remember. Because it’s daylight, he says...we always jumped at night.  

Which also reminds you -- you’re not in that painting. You’re not a lone man in a suit and bowler. And you’ve always wondered what’s outside the frame, anyway. Because you know there’s more. You’ve seen the process of Story -- the photograph to canvas; conversation to page; fish to rise. And you know there is a lot left unseen, told, hooked. So perhaps -- perhaps there was another figure in that sea, too. Another someone standing, looking down. Because before The Lettermen it was Donne who penned those lines about men and islands. Perhaps you can’t see see them, still fighting their own way up from underwater. And you worry, because you need them to. You need them to show themselves.

Damn them.

But then again, sometimes what you need is someone standing close by your side, whispering in your ear that you can do it -- that this fish is yours. 


47 comments:

  1. Erin- I bet you'd rock a bowler, and I think it would complete the carp anglers ensemble nicely. People already think we're odd. And who know's- maybe it's the missing piece of the carp puzzle.

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    1. Fontinalis Rising - Mmm, I've wanted a newsboy hat for quite some time. I think I could rock it. Plus....yes...I'm odd. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. I stop by a lot, cover my mouth and move on. I make a point not to write after I read your words.

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  2. There is always more to the story beyond the frame, the paper's edge, the other side...A good work of art draws you in, makes you think there is more. I may have to haunt Joslyn soon to see if the man in the bowler hat resides there.

    Remember Bert's paintings in Mary Poppins? We always wanted to jump through those chalk drawings to get to the other side. To the unknown adventures.

    Journey on my child
    Mama

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    1. sgb - I always wanted to jump into Bert's chalk drawings, too. Singing penguins....what a hoot! Here's to the journey and the adventures along the way.

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  3. Erin, you whispered to that Carp, "You are mine" and she responded.

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    1. Mr. P - Carp have personality, that's for sure. And always keep us on our toes and present in mind...even, if not in the right state of it. Thanks as always!

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  4. There is a huge reservoir a little more than 4 minutes drive from where I live, packed with carp. I'm going to have to try my hand at fly fishing for carp soon,

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    1. Phillip - Indeed, I think that sounds like a grand idea! Give it a go!

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  5. Awww! When I read the title I though you were back on the market Erin. Ah well :o)

    Very provocative writing, you paint a wonderful landscape with your pen.

    I'd love to watch you stalking carp with a fly, I'm sure it would be a lesson stealth, patience and skill - quite the opposite to my usual approach.

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    1. Dave - Sorry to have misled you there. ;) And I am still learning the stealth thing...apparently my feet are made of lead, and also quite clumsy.

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  6. Joslyn A.M., good memory, and great midwestern gem.

    Nice bit of writing too. Good reflection of my seemingly mad state of mind when stalking and really in the 'muck' of a tough fish hunt.

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    1. M.A. - Ah! You remember it too?! Next time I'm back in the Big O, I'll have to make a visit to Joslyn. Their "Bagels & Bach" Sunday morning concert series was so great, I wonder if they're still doing it. Good memories. Anyhow, thanks as always...and I'm glad I'm not the only one that's gone mad.

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  7. '...looking for carp.' Grlfren' lemme tell you, pals invite me to LA River, carp on flies! they froth. Humbug. Humbug I tell you!, to the frothy waters. And trout.

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  8. Don't know what you are missing DK if not sarcastic. "Atomic eruptions of what you've done wrong," love that! Especially disheartening in late October v. April. Good stuff Erin!

    Gregg

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    1. Gregg - Thanks as ever! And indeed, those hard days are so much worse at the end of the season, when you know there isn't "endless" time for redemption.

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  9. Carp?! Carp??!! on a fly rod? My gorge rises. In the state of CO? where there are trouts to be had?

    Madness, madness, as bridge crashes into River Kwai. Onto carp.

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    1. Darrell - Ahhh....just wait until one day it's carp on a 'boo! ;)

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    1. Regular Rod - Thanks...Jay has a good eye!

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  11. Erin ... 100 % Pure Delight! Somewhere between the research, and stacking wood for the crisp winter, you have woven a beauty!

    Madison absolutely loves Mary Poppins ... We have watched Lets Go Fly A Kite, Spoon Full Of Sugar, and I Love to Laugh videos so many times. I am going to show her Bert on the Sidewalk tomorrow, want to join us?

    I am tempted to look under the corner of this laptop for your next adventure :-)

    Jim

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    1. Jim - Have a lovely time with Bert tomorrow....wish I could jump through to that land of adventure, too. What's with this thing called "work," anyways...? ;-) Thanks as always, Jim!

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  12. Lovely piece Erin. Heavy footed but a lovely light wrist whether with rod or pen. It flows so eloquently. Beautiful.

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  13. Your description reads like something Magritte would have painted.

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    1. I think that's probably a good guess.

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  14. That must be some landing net handle too land that fish from where you are stood :)

    Lovely as ever.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by to read, Tom! And yes, if would have to be some net...thankfully for the nice flat beach, I didn't have to use one. :)

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  15. I don't check the interwebs for one week and look what i miss...

    sometimes we're the faceless man in a bowler..other times we're just mad.

    great piece as always!

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    1. Sanders - A lot can happen in one week! And in the meantime, I've gotten mad. ;) Thus, appropriately wear both hats. Thanks for checking in!

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  16. This painted an image far greater than I can think. I may not have read this one enough.

    I might have a problem casting to shadows as well. Did that shadow just move? No, that was just moss moving in the current, or a stick. Sometimes, you just find exactly what you were looking for. Even if you thought it was a tire.

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    1. backcountryfishnerd - It's all enough to make one feel crazy. But you're right...what we're looking for is all right there.

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  17. "burning your nose, fading your cap, bleaching streaks into your hair that your mother got with lemon juice in high school."- I like it.

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    1. Peter - Thanks! And I'm very glad you do!

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  18. Outstanding as always. Such a welcome respite from the nonsense I read.

    Thank you, Erin

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    1. Wolfy - Thanks so much for stopping by to read...and for the good words.

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  19. I feel the essence of why we do it...the realness of human companionship..... This may be one of your best visions.....rock on..

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    1. Scott - "the realness of human companionship"...makes it possible to go on, doesn't it. Thank you, as always!

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    2. Erin- I'm glad you understood. It sounds a little awkward. An intangible but deep feeling..."real" seemed to make sense.This little essay is a gem.

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  20. @ EMB- excellent! @ SGB- I agree, Burt's paintings were always intriguing to me. Another movie/painting scene I always loved (I know it's a little cheesy) was the scene withe Cameron, from "Ferris Buellers Day Off, when he was looking at a painting and the scene kept zooming in closer and closer and closer until you only saw the individual pixels and fibers of the canvas.

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    1. Seth - Yes, exactly! Those images are of exactly the kind I saw in my head while I was writing. Funny how with perspective, views change...things come in and out of focus in season. Thanks for stopping by to read!

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  21. Ah,lovely! I do question your self criticism. But I love that nature's beauty makes you cry.









































    "Ten-speeded cruising in the neverending days of childhood". Ah...lovely. I do question your self criticism. And I love that nature's beauty makes you cry.






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