Calle Feria

Calle Feria

The broad avenue leading to Calle Feria begins to crowd with people. The sun is bright and the birds are loud. Everyone is on foot, smoking cigarettes, carrying children or baskets with colorful food, fabric, and other goods. This motley crew is ambling towards Calle Feria, site of the El Jueves market, a centuries-old bazaar in the middle of Sevilla, Spain that is held every afternoon on Jueves. An always unwieldy crowd comes to this street market looking to barter, buy, and sell anything from old electronics to American baseball cards. Miles of tables line the narrow cobblestone streets and men are yelling and waving their hands, enticing onlookers with promises of fine silver and jewelry. I am astonished by the site, and take my time as I side-step around broken typewriters and oriental lamps.

I move along slowly trying to take everything in, to find a special something to take back to America with me—the excitement of telling people I bought something at a gypsy market in Spain already building. I browse a table with antique bronzed door knobs and second-hand toys. I pick up a harshly used doll, wondering about the child who could have hugged that doll so much one side of the doll’s plastic face was dented in, not allowing that particular eye to look in the same direction as the other. As I broke my gaze away from the doll it was met by a somber man staring right at me wearing faded blue jeans and a Ralph Lauren polo shirt two sizes too small. I think he was expecting me to pay for that frightful thing. I sheepishly put the doll down and move away from the table, quickly, and so American-like.

At the next table, I spot a pair of boxing gloves, with a homemade cardboard sign reading, “Objetos perdidos. Al no encontrarse el dueño, los vendo” (Lost objects. As the owner cannot be found, I am selling them). I thought this was so intriguing I asked the man behind the table if I could just buy the sign from him. He looked at me peculiarly, and sternly said no; something must have been lost in translation. I had to settle for just taking a picture of the sign, because I could not afford the 15 euros he was asking for the objectos perdidos.

Sitting down on a small piece of concrete jutting from a 115 sq foot indoor bakery, I watch the colorful women barter for kitchen utensils, and a scruffy man selling whiskey flasks with someone else’s initials engraved on them. I watch an escalating argument between two men concerning a television that was bought under the pretenses that it worked. The wide-eyed seller began screaming “no refunds” in Spanish, but the hot tempered buyer was not ready to back down. After throwing the nonrefundable television on the ground, the buyer proceeded to aggressively charge the man behind the table. I suddenly had a flashback to the bullfight I witnessed earlier in the week while the smell of churros con chocolate intoxicate. It has happened. I am smitten with Spain.

Photo credit: secretolivo.com
Photo credit: secretolivo.com

Dots

Dots

A line is really just a number of dots that become a line. Eyes scan along lines, which provide direction and movement—a crease of a mouth, a bent knee. Different types of lines can create alternate feelings and responses due to the enhancement of perspective and depth—an arm around a waist, chin tilted. A shape then is just a space enclosed by lines, a nose hungrily pressed against a cheek. Shapes that are perceived as having depth create forms, like two bodies naturally intertwined. Therefore, forms are just shapes in relation to each other, next to each other perhaps, whispering.

Staring at a photograph, you can dissect it by forms, then divide by their shapes, narrow in on the lines, and it all just becomes a cluster of dots. Until you zoom out almost out of focus, or blink. You recognize the figure, against the background, and the dots are now a complete visual space, transporting you back to those beautiful teeth and sturdy jaw. You feel it in your gut, a neurochemical attack. You notice the contrast and the relationship of different elements. Harmonious and expected, like those jello molds with the chunky fruit. You cannot decide whether to focus on the darkness or the lightness. Is it fruit with jello, or jello with fruit?

Those elements are the building blocks of the tone. Color gradients are clustered meticulously—or haphazardly—pink lips on a cuff. Some colors can have the same tone, and like colors can have different tones, skin on skin, world beneath world. Colors create responses, connect, yet some are hard to look at, or get ignored. Like the distant lights through the window, proving there was life outside of that embrace. Texture is also important. Texture is the character of the forms-a rumpled blouse, or socks gathering in a native scrunch around the ankle. Different textures allow for distinctive looks and feels, like the unruliness of freshly washed hair. There is also a certain practicality of texture—revealing certain intentions.

Then there is this idea of hierarchy, of the various dominance of shapes and colors. The shadow on the wall, a block of a figure forming a monstrous pinky in the air, filled with power and want. The inclusion of or the lack of symmetry—arm above the head, body exposed—is also telling. Exposed but not untaken, a strong palm burrowing into a ribcage. The abstract, almost hidden details are captivating. Then you blink again, out of habit, and puff your cheeks with a robust sigh. The perception of the image changes, a different discourse has begun. Intimate assumptions have transpired into a patient endurance of forgetting. A chair may still be a chair with or without anybody in it, but you never even noticed that the couch was plaid.

That strangely flattened face, eyes set curiously close together, has a different meaning now. Observing from a new angle, and more importantly from a fresh time, you renounce the claim. Sparse and well used, the photograph you stare at may be all you have left, once reminiscent of robust laughter and fleeting amusement. What is that saying? that we gain control by letting go, or we win through surrender. So life goes on, diffidently, and you choose to see just a series of dots and stuff the photo back into its hiding place. Until something moves you to confront the dots again.

Sestina: “Something”

The sestina is a ancient, complex form of poetry that follows an exact pattern of repetition of the initial six end words of the first stanza. This was my first stab at it, and because of the patterning, the poem took a life of its own.  I highly recommend trying it!

Something

Girl met boy.

They went to the zoo.

Boy always opened the door,

and girl thought,

this could be something,

but girl was unsure.

 

The word forever is an unsure

thing.  (Especially with just one boy.)

But, this could be something.

The start of their own personal zoo.

But girl possessed an unabating thought,

forever may close other doors.

 

“Forever” is sweet when whispered to the one you adore,

but what if there is another choice on another shore?

Trapping thoughts

But, girl loves boy.

Perfection–that day at the zoo.

This could be something.

 

This could really be something.

Years pass and boy still opens doors.

And they still go to the zoo

to commemorate that day they were so sure.

Boy asks for her hand, and girl thinks, oh boy.

Girl relents, hushing the afterthoughts.

 

Girl and boy forever, what a thought.

But this could be something.

Girl knows she loves boy.

And wants to go on adventures and open more doors.

Lingering thoughts of exotic shores.

Girl and boy add to their own zoo.

 

Girl can’t help but think of cages at the zoo;

doubt still forming a looming thought.

But one day girl looks at boy and is mostly sure,

that this could be something.

Boy opens more than doors.

Girl sees loyalty in boy.

 

This boy, the girl thought,

Since the zoo day, has been more than something,

and she stepped through the door, sure.