Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Amber Foyer

Rain, Steam and Speed: The Great Western Railway by William Turner


We have many words for things that we aren't sure of: God. Love. Meaning. Each of us borrows them, like the color Yellow. What we paint, on whom we smear: these creations are our responsibilities as we mix them on the palettes of our memories, thoughts, and desires.

For me, yellow is always the light of the amber glass bricks around the front door in the townhouse in Sacramento, specifically in the August afternoons of 1977—when all I had to do was open the door and I could pass into the City where I would meet him as his guide. He was a short man with bulging eyes. A hunted man and I alone knew how to help him. My dress was as beautiful, like a painting of a train hurtling over a bridge and into an explosion of gold cloud and a river of sunlight.

And I knew that the Temple of the Cats—where they lounge in statuary and streaked jasmine—was where could find the answer. We waited on the roof, listening to the drums as the sunset swallows the towers and the tiles, touching them like copper and persimmons until the night comes. He shyly said the Moon was prettier reflected in my eyes than in the sky.

This was Khandormand, and it would be there in the morning. “I’ve lost my ticket” he said. It did not matter. Outside were the markets and bazaars that hid treasure, phoenixes, orphans and burning censors of myrrh and frankincense.

Or were they simply olive trees and stucco walls? The smoke from burning rice paddies? A watercolor copy of an oil painting? Or  did I find them all in the Year of the Cat?