My morning walk took me on an unexpectedly southeastern route today, when I arrived at a corner, saw the sun, and turned abruptly to follow it. The warmth felt so good! That led across a bridge where I glimpsed this metaphor of change—a boat passing by—then to a park, site of the street art I captured a while back. It’s gone! All that is left are a few scraps of black paper. (We’ll have to just keep trusting the flux by ourselves, I guess.)
Shortly afterwards, it was while passing by a grocery store that I saw it: a mysterious black velvet necklace, elaborately jeweled in gold beads and embroidery.
Like a sunglass-wearing magpie, I stood transfixed, walked all around it, and poked it with my toe. In any other time, I would have picked it up, at least. (I might even have taken it home, washed it, taken out the seams, and stitched it into a new wall-hanging!) The temptation was great.
Instead I took a picture, and left it behind. But my mind took flight… into memories of Baudelaire. For you and me both, here are a few lines to share the pleasure, from “La Chevelure.” They show how an ordinary thing—hair—inspired the poet to conjure up the mysterious beauties of womanhood … (English translation below)
O toison, moutonnant jusque sur l’encolure !
O boucles ! O parfum chargé de nonchaloir !
Extase ! Pour peupler ce soir l’alcôve obscure
Des souvenirs dormant dans cette chevelure,
Je la veux agiter dans l’air comme un mouchoir !
La langoureuse Asie et la brûlante Afrique,
Tout un monde lointain, absent, presque défunt,
Vit dans tes profondeurs, forêt aromatique !
Comme d’autres esprits voguent sur la musique,
Le mien, ô mon amour ! nage sur ton parfum.
… Fortes tresses, soyez la houle qui m’enlève !
“The Head of Hair”
Ecstatic fleece that ripples to your nape
And reeks of negligence in every curl!
To people my dim cubicle tonight
With memories shrouded in that head of hair,
I’d have it flutter like a handkerchief!
For torpid Asia, torrid Africa
–the wilderness I thought a world away—
Survive at the heart of this dark continent…
As other souls set sail to music, mine,
O my love! Embarks on your redolent hair.
Take me, tousled current…
Charles Baudelaire, The Flowers of Evil / Les Fleurs du mal, trans. Richard Howard, (Boston: David R. Godine, 1982), 30, 208.
from the sublime to the banal, here is yesterday’s mask production: