Crossroads Mask – 2002

Watercolor, graphite – 18 x 13

The Sonoran Desert, a vast expanse of pink sand, is crenelated at the far horizons by the mesas.  Man’s train tracks and roads score it, crisscrossing here and there after traveling immense distances, out of nowhere and into nowhere.  Sometimes a train goes by, a nearly endless freight train. 

Sometimes a train stops, a passenger train at a small station, such as Gallup, and you don’t get on.  You just watch it as it pulls away without you.  Sometimes you hear a train whistle far off in the middle of the night, or even in the middle of the day, and you hope the people who are on that train are glad they are.  You’re glad you’re not on it.  Or, you might wish you were.  Eventually you’ll get on one and leave someone behind, someone who wants you to leave them.  You find yourself sleeping with somebody, their arm lowered across your chest like an arm at a railway crossing, and they’re breathing heavily as you wait for the dawn with the circulation to your heart being cut off.

You think about the crossroads, and the two human bodies entwined like snakes in the middle of it.   You hear two ravens drift by clacking to each other like train wheels over the joints in the rails, like ebony sticks clicking and clocking.  What are they saying?   you might ask.  Now they are caw, caw, cawing a song as they fade towards the rising sun.  Specks of ash floating towards a far-off mesa.

It’s starting to sleet. The sleet turns to a dry snow that mixes with the grains of fleshy-pink sand and sifts about the sparse bushes and the small boulders making and remaking patterns, as though the wind were scribbling a message on the land.  What is the message?  Why are you here?  Why don’t you board a train and go home?  

The philosopher Kerenyi said, “Journeying is the best condition for loving.”  Maybe he was talking about loving yourself enough to move on.

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