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Luis Silva | The Fox's Tail

March 17 - May 5, 2012

 

press release:

Opening Reception: March 17, 6:30 - 8:30pm

Lion eats gazelle, Wolf eats lamb.  Fox eats chicken. Chicken eats worm.  Even worm eats lion.   That is the order of things.

But what if things were not this way.  What if lion loved gazelle, wolf loved lamb, fox loved chicken, chicken loved worm and even worm loved lion?  There is a brotherhood of man – and yet man can be a beast.  Wouldn’t it also make sense that beast could be a man?  A fraternity of animal.   A place where gazelle was free to gazelle, because it no longer feared lion.  Or lamb was free to lamb because it no longer feared wolf.  Or chicken was free to chicken because it not longer feared fox.  But what if chicken yearned to be more than chicken?  And there you have it.

The fable begins…. Both the writing and the paintings wander through the spaces and gaps provided by fiction and order, in search of imagination, the real, belief and the thread that binds them.

The writing makes use of fairy tale, dream, myth, allegorical novella, moral play and magic realism.  The journey propels the viewer/reader from forest to field masquerading with imagination, wit, resourcefulness and big hearts through loneliness, homesickness, discovery and joy.

The paintings make the viewer feel the delight of infusing thought into material. Silva takes obvious pleasure in the process and history of the two dimensional object.  The intermingling of drawing and painting the use of the space, the consideration of the supports the decision to have natural linen as a ground, the modeled paint circulating among the decorative and the abstract toying with tradition and novelty and above all, choice.

Luis Silva received his BA from Harvard University and his MFA from Columbia University.  He is Associate Professor at American University.  Although born in Portugal, he grew up in the United States and currently lives in the Washington, DC area.  This is his third solo exhibition at G Fine Art.

Following is the Fable Written Along with the Show:

THE FOX’S TAIL - Luis Silva

I. Lion eats gazelle.  Wolf eats lamb.  Fox eats chicken.  Chicken eats worm.  Even worm eats lion.  That is the order of things.

But what if things were not this way.  What if lion loved gazelle, wolf loved lamb, fox loved chicken, chicken loved worm, and even worm loved lion.  There is a brotherhood of man – and yet man can be beast.  Wouldn’t it also make sense that beast could be man?  A fraternity of animal.  A place where gazelle was free to gazelle, because it no longer feared lion.  Or lamb was free to lamb because it no longer feared wolf.  Or chicken was free to chicken because it no longer feared fox.  But what if chicken yearned to be more than chicken?

That was the thought that went through chicken’s head as she sat with crow and porcupine.  Daily, the threesome sat together by the side of the brook in the hollow among the reeds of wood, enjoying their midday picnics. Wood was a splendidly bountiful and joyful place that could provide for all. It was so distantly removed from the world, that it provided its residents sanctuary from the struggle and savagery that existed outside its borders.  It was a place within which, due to its isolated bounty, beast could live in civility and brotherhood.  It was a place where chicken could chicken, porcupine could porcupine, and crow could crow.  Wood was a place of peace and ease, and, with very little to weigh their minds, chicken, porcupine, and crow met daily by the brook in wood to idly gossip and discuss the comings and goings of their home.

They spoke of eagle and his stately grace.  They spoke of swan and her enchanting song.  They spoke of dove and her peaceful virtue.  They spoke in admiration of all the wonderfully great creatures, who did wonderfully great things, and who lived along side them in a wonderfully great wood.  And throughout their adoration and praise, they would sip tea and nibble on their delicious assortment of fare, content to enjoy their days in wood.  That was every other day, but not today, because today, their sojourn was quite unexpectedly disturbed.

On this day, porcupine had been excitedly musing on the quite nimble dancing of bear, when, abruptly, their quiet patch came alive.  It began with an eye.  Then, another eye. Then, a hundred eyes.  Framing a crown that proudly rose upon a head – a head that rose upon a neck – a neck whose length sloped down to a blaze of blue rising like a fire back to a fan of eyes.  Peacock appeared through the reeds, and the trio’s feast abruptly and unexpectedly turned to dearth.  Peacock was magnificent, and, so magnificently so, that even from peacock’s plumes fell a score of feathers no longer worthy of adorning his frame. Talon over talon with a purposeful strut, peacock cut a line through the locked stares of the three only to be swallowed by the thick brush that bordered the brook. In the splendor of wood, amidst the reeds of the brook, in the wake of peacock’s gait, all that remained was a palpable silence, a trail of feathers lost, and three disheartened companions left to ponder their lack.  And the three sat blankly in silence for what seemed an eternity, reflecting upon themselves and each other, until their silence was finally broken by chicken. Chicken was content to chicken, but what if chicken wanted to be more than chicken.  The words filled the air.  But what if chicken yearned to be more than chicken?

More often than not, when words fill the air, they join a myriad of other words that are already there, and as such amidst such a cacophony, they eventually disappear into the sky never to be heard again.  More often than not, this is the sad course of words.  This time, however, didn’t happen to be one of those times.  As the words left chicken’s mouth, they floated through the hollow, past the reeds, by the brook, over a berm and landed on the left ear of fox before moving up to the sky.  Fox had his own problems.  Hungry, fox had spent the morning fruitlessly lunging for apples that sat just above his reach in the orchard beside the hollow.  Worn and frustrated, fox’s stomach lurched with a grumble.  That is not a good thing, because despite a fraternity of beasts, when fox’s stomach grumbles, fox will be fox and fox the way foxes are prone to do.   Chicken’s words couldn’t have descended upon fox at a more timely moment – for fox that is.  Despite his fatigue, fox bounded up the berm and cast his gaze over the happenings by the brook.  There sat three friends gathered around quite a feast that seemed to go disdainfully untended.  What a wasteful affair.   But what if chicken wanted to be more than chicken.  With these words to his avail, fox began to fox and sprung down the other side of the berm to the gathering below.

II. But what if chicken were more than chicken.  Those were foxes words as his measured approach displaced the thickness of the same words that had settled between the trio.  It is quite sad to be so impish and bare when there’s plainly so much more to which one can aspire.  Poor chicken, so scrawny and skittish, and so austere a plumage to bear.  And poor porcupine, what a fright, with a prickly coat that gives me such cautious pause on approach.  But what of crow? Crow?  Oh, so sorry, I missed poor crow.  How perfectly well he blended into the dark emptiness of the hollow.  So sorry that I didn’t see you there.  Oh what despair to be you three.

What to do? What to do?  Poor chicken, porcupine and crow sunk deeply into their now insignificant selves.  What to do, what to do, what to do?  Well, said fox in his foxiest way, it is quite simple, in fact.  Make of yourselves more.  Lion has his mane, stag has his horns, even rooster has his comb.  Why be chicken, porcupine or crow when you can be lion, or stag or rooster?  Be more.

With his foxy tongue, fox had planted his seed, and turned to spy the feast that would soon receive from him the attention that it had, in fact, deserved.  Meanwhile, unlike most words, fox’s words were very carefully aimed and hit their mark.  Not a single word was lost to the sky.  As such, the three consumed their meaning quickly and wasted no time in their response.  Crow dashed to the ground and gathered every feather that peacock had shed. He meticulously combed them into his own creating for himself a coat of blue.  Porcupine darted around the brush spearing on his needles every butterfly that sorrowfully came within his reach.  Porcupine would be porcupine no more.  And poor chicken.  With great disdain, poor chicken plucked and discarded every ordinary feather that had formed her rather ordinary coat.  The words chicken no more now resounded in the hollow as chicken gathered up roots to top her head with a regal, though slightly scraggly, new crown.

Be more, be more. Chicken, porcupine and crow were now adorned as so much more, and, could not contain themselves.  They paraded in turn, each prancing for the other, flaunting their fanciness and their newfound flare. They presented quite the spectacle to those residing in the hollow.  Poor snail who had slitheringly stumbled on this gathering was aghast at this flaunting of ways.  Why is chicken not chicken and crow not crow?  There is a standing to things that all animals know. That each be his own and that each know his place is an equilibrium upon which their fraternity stood.  The words, poor chicken, poor porcupine, poor crow could be heard over the hiss of snail’s body as it recoiled back into the comfort of its shell.  What to do, what to do, hiss-s-s-s-s-s-s-s. But, as we have already seen, like most words, these disappeared into the sky completely missing the trio who continued on with their pageant.  Quite satisfied with their new attire, the three finally sat back down to ruminate on their new selves over their now tepid tea and the still quite scrumptious fare that surrounded them.

What to do, what to do?  This would not do.  It would seem that fox was no closer to his prize, but the grumble in his stomach honed his focus doubly so.  This, would not do, but again this this, like all things, would change.  After all, fox could fox and snail’s words in fact hadn’t been completely lost to the sky.  Fox had nibbled them slightly on the journey upward.  And with a tip of his head and a gracious goodbye, fox gently set on his way to fox, accompanied by a chorus of thank yous from the newly reborn threesome.  Once over the berm, however, fox’s gentle step gave way to an urgent dash.  This would not do, so as a result, something else would be done.

III. Now, fox could dash with the fastest of dashers, for after all, fox was fox.  And, it did not take him long before he encountered a troop of monkeys dancing about a tree.

Ah, dear brothers, the sight I have seen.  You frolic and play here content with your lot, whilst back in the hollow, chicken roosters, porcupine butterflies and crow peacocks.  Fox proceeded to recount to the troop the ghastly parade he had been forced to endure.  It was clear to all that this would not do, and with this news of the day, the monkeys monkeyed as no monkeys had ever monkeyed before.  They leapt to the trees and back to the ground creating a din that echoed throughout the entire forest around them.  This would not do.  If chickens don’t chicken then monkeys won’t monkey.  And, that’s what monkeys do best.  What to do, what to do, could be heard as the monkeys flew into rage.  This news must be spread and there was no time to spare.  And, in the blink of an eye, the troop was gone, scattered to the woods to sound their alarm.  Fox had done well, but fox was not yet done foxing as he leapt again to a dash.

Fox sprinted throughout the wood telling all whom he encountered of the affront that had been hatched.  He told crane, who mused with wolf.  He told bear, who danced with mouse.  He told swan, who crooned with loon.  And crane told frog, who told eagle, who told stag.  And stag told elephant, who told mouse, who told grouse.   Monkey told rabbit, who told chipmunk, who told hawk.  And hawk told dove, who told beaver, who told otter.  Wolf told owl and lamb.  Bear told pig and dog.  Swan told hummingbird and lark.  Soon, it was quite difficult to find anyone who had not somehow already been told.  Outrage soon enveloped the forest.  What to do, what to do, something had to be done and a meeting was quickly called by all to organize the doing.

The meeting took place by the side of a meadow, near the old fallen tree, with owl in charge.  Owl was always in charge in matters like these, because no one could owl as well as owl.  Word had spread throughout the forest like flames, and all were in attendance, except, of course, for chicken, porcupine and crow.  The trio was still at the hollow enjoying their feast unaware of the fact that their fate was being decided for them.  Cries of what to do, what to do, hung in the air.  The cries were so dense they fell to the ground unable to make their escape to the sky.  Those cries, however, were quickly blanketed by the denser cries of chicken, porcupine and crow no more. With a sonorous who, who, who, owl settled the crowd. Who, who, who, here, can speak to the stories we’ve heard.

Fox, who sat crouched atop old fallen tree, smiled a foxy smile, cleared his throat, and yipped his tale with his unique foxy charm. Chicken, porcupine and crow are no longer the who that they are.  They have instead become the who that they’re not, which is, in fact, the who that we be.  It is frankly quite clear that a great calamity has befallen our wood. Who are these three, to challenge our ways?  For if lamb can lion, and lion can bear, our right to ourselves and to each our place is lost.  We will not know who we are, or who we should be.  Our uniqueness stands challenged and if this outrage is left to bear, our delicate fraternity will surely be compromised and chaos shall rule.  Soon, we shall all turn upon each other in order to claim our borne rights.  This cannot stand.  They must be stopped.  That is what was, and this is what we must do and with these foxiest of words, the forest erupted.  Chicken, porcupine and crow no more.  Despite the uproar that now filled the assembly, owl was able to who his best who, which quickly cleared the now overly worded dense air, and he again took charge.

The severity of this matter cannot be denied, yet who, who, who, shall enforce this command?  But owl, being an owl who owled quite well, already knew the answer to his question.  Eagle shall go for he rules the skies and stag shall go for he rules the dales.  Bear shall go for he rules the wood and wolf shall go for he rules the mound.  These are the four who, who, who, shall mete out the force of our decree and punish this impudence.  And the fate of chicken, porcupine and crow was thus decided.  But even before owl had whoed his very last who, fox had already disappeared into the forest in the dashiest of dashes he had dashed thus far.

IV. Chrysanthemum tea is best served quite hot with a gentle swirl of honey.  While that’s all very well and good, that was of little concern to chicken, porcupine and crow, who were too busy enjoying their newly caste selves. In their newfound glory, tepid tea was of little consequence to them.  It would become of even littler consequence still.  For over the berm came fox bounding a bound that was oddly filled with both joy and alarm.  Dear peacock and rooster, and dear butterfly.  I am looking for my friends chicken, porcupine and crow, for they are in grave danger (as if a danger could be anything other than grave). Fox paused to allow his words to clear the air and hit their mark.  Ah, but I am mistaken for it is the you that you’re not.  Your transformations are so complete that even I was lost in your fiction.  How regal you are, but alas it is such a shame since eagle, stag, bear and wolf are coming this way.  The animals have decided that your change will not do.  They ignorantly feel that the order of things is the order of things.  If they could only understand what I can plainly see. Chicken makes a fine rooster, and what a butterfly porcupine is.  And peacock . . . I mean crow.  Need I say more?  But alas, they will come to strip you bare and given their ire, I fear great harm will come to you all.

What to do, what to do, the trio cried out. We should talk to the four, for they will surely understand.  If fox can so easily see the merit of our way, then can’t eagle and stag, and wolf and bear also be easily swayed?  But this will not do said fox to the air.  Don’t you see my dear friends, the decision has been decisioned and there is no more talk to be talked.  They are on their way here now to see it through.  I see the you that you are because I see you anew, but they will see the you that you’re not because their minds are made through. The you that you are is no longer just yours because it has threatened their way.  I would run, run, run to a place where the new you can start anew.  That is what I would do.   Fox was, in fact, very good at foxing, and he knew it.  He couldn’t complete his last words without glancing to his awaiting feast with a lick to his lips.  Run, run, run and be the new you that you are.  Don’t lay down your lives for a fight you’ve already lost.

Oh dear wise fox, what an owl you’d make.  Of course you are right.  We must run with great haste and do it right now.  We will run and make for ourselves a new home within which we can be the new new that we be.  Right now with great haste. And with those five words that were briskly launched by chicken up and into the sky, the trio departed with great haste and right now.  They darted into the wood and quickly onto a path that would take them far away from home and the plot fox had hatched.  To a new wood they would travel, but to where was unknown.  And the three ran onto the path with no clear path ahead.

As chicken, porcupine and crow disappeared from view, fox smiled a quite self-satisfied smile.  He then quickly sat down to his well-earned feast and wolfed down the fare, paw over fox paw.  Right now with great haste rang doubly true as fox filled his mouth.  And much like chicken, porcupine and crow, tepid tea was of little consequence to him, but for other reasons altogether.

V. Fox had barely begun to feast on his feast, when his triumph was so rudely interrupted by the arrival of eagle, stag, wolf and bear.  Fox was most certain that he had not invited the foursome to his well-deserved luncheon.  The foursome was similarly quite surprised to find fox at the hollow, since they were quite sure they had just left him behind at old fallen tree. Tell us dear fox, what are you doing here?  Owl dispatched us with great urgency and we have, in turn, traveled here with great speed, and yet somehow we find that you have made it here before us.  There is no chicken, nor porcupine, nor crow to be found.  Just fox. Or should we say, just fox surrounded by such scrumptious fare and tepid chrysanthemum tea – which, by the way, should be served hot with a swirl of honey.  Eagle, stag, wolf and bear looked upon the hollow with great suspicion.  But fox would not be fox if little details like these couldn’t be easily turned aside.

Oh my dear foursome, I do see what you see, but please do allow me to settle your minds.  The outrage I felt just compelled me to act, and being the fox that I am, I came directly with great speed.  I merely sought to hold chicken, porcupine and crow here in the hollow for your arrival. But if you saw what I saw when I arrived, you’d be cut to the bone, as I was, and outrage would have similarly gotten the best of you.  They were prancing and primping with pomp and with pride and despite my arrival they chose not to hide.  They flaunted their spectacle with little concern, and as much as I tried, I was unable to hold my tongue.  I said, chicken, porcupine and crow, take warning.  Great eagle, great stag, great wolf and great bear shall arrive here shortly and with them comes your judgment.  Repent, repent, repent, change your ways or face your end.  But, I’m sorry to say that upon hearing my words, chicken, porcupine and crow, resolute in their ways and cowering in fear of your eminence, took to immediate flight on the path out of wood.  And if their fear can be measured in miles, I am sad to say they have gone far, far away and a chase would be fruitless.  The deceit that was here can no longer be undone.  But you should take great pride in the fact that your repute has at least removed these heathen from our home to a place where they can no longer bring us harm.

Well thank you dear fox, your words do make sense, but owl you’re not, nor is this your charge.  We have been tasked with justice and as a result justice is ours to seek.  Their flight only underscores the importance of our task, because with flight comes spread and spread brings return.  The three must be found to bring this ridiculousness to an end.  The chase is our strength, to this owl has seen.  There will be no sanctuary in the skies, nor safety in the dales.  The wood will not provide cover, and the mound will be of no avail.  We rule them all and poor chicken, porcupine and crow shall meet fate as it has been decided for them.

Now this did not sit well with poor fox at all. For the last thing fox needed was for pursuer to meet pursued and in so doing, have his very creative foxing exposed.  Foxes just don’t like being exposed because that’s the way of foxes.  Fox had already done quite a bit of work this day, and yet there still remained another other thing to be done before fox could enjoy his meal. But some days are like that.  What to do, what to do?  But the answer was clear, for in cases of emergency, like the one at hand, fox understood three very important words – three words that are quite helpful in situations like these, where a solution is greatly desired but no resolution is at hand.  Three little words that have resolved more pressing dilemmas than any other three words ever have.  Three words of great potential.

Three words.

Three little words.

Well, in actuality, one word repeated three times.

Still, three words.

Oh yes, the three words.  What are they, you might ask?

Quite simply, they are . . .

Delay.

Delay.

Delay.

Why do, when the wait will do the doing for you. Delay will result in distance and distance is what’s called for here. And so, fox thought to himself, onward promptly with delay.

As fox began to speak, other animals arrived at the hollow with the hope of seeing the mighty foursome enforce the order that had been ordered upon the trio.  There was rabbit and frog, and ass and pig.  Vulture and hyena were there because vulture and hyena somehow had the knack of showing up whenever there was a possible hint of misfortune in the air.  The animals could never quite figure that one out, but it just came to be assumed that that was the way of vulture and hyena. Regardless, the animals came for result, but were instead met with words – or should I say the words of fox.

Your eminences, your objective is quite clear, but being a fox who is quite versed in foxing, may I assist you in this matter.  You are all so regal and great in your might that your presences are felt wherever you go.  And more often than not, before you even arrive.  But might I suggest in a case such as this, that your stature will only serve as warning to your quarry.  Chicken, porcupine and crow are so much more than they were, so much so, that they can even outfox a fox like me.  Given your greatness, any approach you make toward them will be compromised.  Don’t let passion lead you as it failingly did me, but pause here for a second and prepare for the chase. My suggestion as a fox is toward stealth, and it would be a great honor for me to aid you in this quest. So before you begin might I add a word of advice?

Camouflage.

Concealment is key in a case such as this.  Be less the you that you are and your success in this task will be assured.

The foursome listened intently to fox’s deliberate words and the thought that dawned on all four was that fox was a truly good fox.  Little did they realize that fox was, in fact, a truly great fox.  Had they rightly been aware of fox’s foxiness, they would have seen that fox’s words were merely only just the words that all words so often really are.  A considerably closer look would have shown them that fox and the words fox spoke were, in actuality, serving one and the same. And had they looked really, really, really closely, they would have most certainly seen that eagle, stag, wolf and bear and the words they heard were similarly, also, in actuality, serving one and the same.

Fox already knew all this, which is one of the reasons why fox was a truly great fox.  Had eagle, stag, wolf and bear seen, rather than listened, to fox’s words, great foxes they would have also been and fox’s diversion would have unraveled and this tale would have come to a quick end for more reasons than I dare go into here (but being that this is best left to philosophers and linguists and not eagles, stags, wolves and bears, let us go on with our tale).  Suffice it to say, that eagle, stag, wolf, and bear were not great foxes and, being the eagle, stag, wolf and bear that they were, listened intently. As a result, fox continued with his very persuasive foxing.

To succeed in your task, blending, diversion, and substitution are key.  Be not what you seem and seem not what you be.

And all in the hollow paused to contemplate and consider the meaning of fox’s very foxy words.

VI. A leisurely stroll can do wonderful things in regard to cleansing one’s thoughts and revitalizing one’s soul. Although it would have been difficult to have mistaken chicken, porcupine and crow’s anxious pace for that of a stroll much less anything you might even remotely attach the term leisurely to, the trio had nonetheless found their minds substantially clearer as they arrived at wood’s end.  Ambling will often do that for you, which is why it comes so highly recommended during periods of great agitation.  And after hours of walking along the path without stopping, the trio found themselves more focused, uplifted, and hopeful and you could have easily made the mistake of attributing this newfound hope to the healing potential of the trek and the leaving of home. In actuality, what they found at wood’s end probably had more to do with their up tick in mood than the brisk and exhaustive rush they had just endured

For just outside of wood’s cosseted sanctuary, they encountered a meadow of such beauty, that the three had to stop and ponder the obvious portentous significance of this chance discovery.  The field before them appeared quite unexpectedly in a hollow by the wood and was splendidly ablaze in reds, whites, blues and yellows.  Dots of pink here and splashes of violet there.  There were oranges, crimsons and apple greens.  Ambers, magentas, teals and lavenders.  There were even colors that chicken, porcupine and crow had never seen before and thus for which they had no names.  Colors like sinopia, smalt, and stizza. Or ube, upsdell, and urobilin.  But that didn’t bother them because they were more intent on the beauty that lay before them.  Flowers of all colors, shapes and heights grew everywhere.  And in the middle of this meadow stood a solitary figure, flowers on his breast, openly weeping a weep that flowed from his eyes to the ground like streams.

Goose had resided in the meadow for years.  When goose first arrived, meadow was not meadow, but a desolate place with very little to offer on the outskirts of wood.  Goose had been traveling on the very same path the trio was now taking and although the field was barren then, goose was tired, so field provided a spot for goose to rest along the road.  Field in fact was much like goose – plain and unadorned, it received very little attention from the very, very few passersby that ever wandered on the path away from the safety of wood.  Goose, feeling an immediate kinship to field, put down his travel satchel, and made a place for the night.  But as goose lay his head down to rest, he spied a handful of seed cast down on the ground.  Now there are seed, and there are seed, but never before had goose seen seed as deliciously seedy as these.  No two seed were alike in shape, color, or size, and from their husks, goose would swear to this day that he could hear them say, eat us dear goose for we need to give rise.  Now goose knew better than to believe in talking seed, much less take heed of talking seed’s advice, but he was famished and thought the seed a good meal.  Goose, being the goose that he was, goosed down those seeds.  It was a decision that would marry him to meadow.

No sooner had goose swallowed the seed than his tummy began to rumble.  At first it felt like a rumble of hunger, and then it felt like a rumble of gas, but it turned out to be neither of these.  Instead it was a rumble of growth.  A pinch to the left, a rub on the right, a tickle to the center, and then . . . a sprout.  It came quite suddenly and with considerable pain.  A tiny little shoot appeared just below the crest of feathers on his right breast.  Then came another above his thigh, and another above his stomach and two through his groin.  The pain was unbearable and yet there was more to come. Through the soles of his flippers sprouted roots to the ground, and soon, goose became anchored to the very soil he stood upon.  The sprouting continued everywhere with force, and soon, to his right and his left, the field was ablaze in reds, whites, blues and yellows.  Dots of pink here and splashes of violet there.  There were oranges, crimsons and apple greens.  Ambers, magentas, teals and lavenders.  There were even colors that goose had never seen before and thus for which he had no names.  Colors like ao, arylide, and aureolin. Or feldgrau, falu, and fulvous.  But that didn’t bother him because there were more urgent things that concerned him.

He felt the nutrients from the ground flowing through him and into the plants, but the pain was unbearable and goose believed death to be near. Flowers of all colors, shapes and heights grew everywhere before him and as he began to slip away, he could not help but wonder at the majesty of beauty that flowed through him and out into this barren world.  And with the realization that he was at one with the birth of this beauty at the moment of his death, there came a tear to his eye . . . and then another, and another, and then a trickle, and soon, a fully born stream flowed from both his eyes fed by water pulled from the roots that had spread from his feet.  That’s when things began to turn in his favor.

The streams that flowed from his eyes fed the flowers on and around him, and they grew with evermore speed and purpose.  What began as a blaze of color was now an inferno.  But as the streams fed the flowers they also fed goose’s body and the wounds that he suffered were quickly healed.  Goose began to regain his strength and pain quickly turned to power.  Flesh and plant joined as one and goose understood quite well the transformation that had overtaken him and was at the source of his salvation.  In his humble awareness of the beauty of this world and his place within it at death, goose had been reborn.  Goose was now meadow, and meadow was goose.  And it felt good to be as one with his world.  Goose was content and the tears have since flowed.

Chicken, porcupine and crow heard goose’s tale and an immediate kinship was forged in this birthplace of kinship.  They told goose of their plight and their flight and in turn goose offered them refuge and home in his fields.  The offer was tempting and the three were quite touched, but their minds were quite clear from their walk and they knew the answer that must be answered even before they conferred.  Dear brother goose, your offer is kind.  We could think of no greater place to which we would reside.  But our terrible plight has put us in flight and we dare not bring that to your garden.  A home we will find or a home we will make, but we are too close to wood and must leave for your sake.  This is rightly your home, but it is not rightly ours.  Goose understood and thanked them for their selflessness.  From chicken to rooster to no one at all, it had been quite a day of change for the trio.

And with these words, goose would not allow them to leave the meadow without something to provide them comfort on their journey.  Please fetch me my satchel.  Given my roots to this place, I need it no more.  And into the satchel, goose placed seed taken from his blooms.  Should you find yourself troubled, as you walk along, simply spread the seed, nourish them, and your own meadow will grow.  Chicken, porcupine and crow were quite pleased and thanked meadow for their time with goose and goose for their time with meadow.  With a heavy heart and yet a lighter step, they set out back on their path, past the outskirts of wood, in the hope that they too would soon find their own meadow away from the animals of their former home.  Tears were shed by all.

VII. Meanwhile, back at the hollow.

Be not what you seem and seem not what you be.

With these words of advice, the foursome had paused for quite some time to ponder their sense.

Be not what you seem and seem not what you be.

Be not what you seem and seem not what you be.

A steely glint slowly crept into eagle’s eyes as the meaning of fox’s words came clear to him.  Eagle was, after all, the smartest of the lot.  He knew exactly what fox meant and he knew exactly what eagle would do.  And of course being eagle, he was the first to fly into action – or should I say, fox’s delay. If concealment is key, then sun is both my enemy and my ally.  And with those cryptic words, eagle flew straight up into the sky flying higher and higher until he disappeared from the view of all those below.  Seconds went by, then minutes, then hours.  Then, without warning, a speck of bright light came tumbling down from above.  At first, all took it to be a falling star that had chosen to reveal itself during the day.  But as it came lower and lower to the gathering below, what all saw was quite clear.  There came eagle, and in his beak raged a fire so bright and so pure that it could only burn of itself.  Eagle came to rest on the ground in the majestic way that eagles come to rest and laid his prize down before his talons. In a resounding screech, eagle announced that he had gone to sun to seek counsel, and with part of sun he had returned.  For sun has told me that she provides light and light provides knowledge.  But light also makes shadow and within shadow there is ignorance.  Take of sun, and you shall take and be master of both.

And by the way, eagle noted, I also quite sadly observed that the high sky has become completely littered with words, which greatly impeded and delayed my flight.  It would do us all well to speak much less and with greater purpose.

Notwithstanding his aside, eagle was quite proud of his cunning and his prize, and he began to bob in anticipation.  But before eagle had his chance at ingesting the mastery provided by sun, bear rumbled forward and pounced on the glowing piece swallowing it whole.  Poor bear was only doing what bears do, bad manners and all. As such, with eagle’s long and drawn out aside and his dawdling anticipation, that little bit of radiance just proved to be too enticing for bear.  Impulse control was just not one of bear’s strengths, whereas pinching food had always been. Needless to say, eagle was livid, but he stood frozen with the others in further anticipation.

That morsel of sun burned strongly as it went down bear’s throat, settling down into the pit of bear’s stomach.  At first bear howled from the sensation of burn, then he fell to the ground writhing and twisting.  As bear rolled, the ground was scorched to the blackest of blacks and soon all that remained was what appeared to be a shadow of bear burned into hollow’s ground.  My sun, my sun screeched eagle in vain.  But it was too late as both sun and bear disappeared into the darkness of the char.

Poor bear, said stag.

Poor bear, said wolf.

Poor bear, said eagle.  With a slight bit of relief.

Poor bear, said bear.

Poor bear said bear?  And all at the hollow stared incredulously at the shadow of bear that lay on the earth as it made its way toward them.  Poor bear? Said bear.  What should be said is poor chicken, poor porcupine and poor crow. As shadow I am, and as shadow I move.  Bear is now shadow and, as shadow, concealment is mine. Long before chicken, porcupine and crow can witness our approach, I shall pounce upon them and mete out their doom.  Let us be off quickly, with great haste and right now.

The gathering burst into thunderous celebration and laughter at bear’s bravado and the miraculously effective transformation he undertook at poor eagle’s expense.  Hyena burst into a cackle, and he was joined in the mirth by both rabbit and ass. This did not sit well with eagle given that, along with the ground, his pride had also been quite badly charred by bear.  Eagle turned to rabbit, who was closest at hand, and gave him a piercing stare.  Seeing the sharpening rage that was dangerously honing eagle’s eyes, rabbit attempted to quickly contain his smirk.  But it was too late.  With one fell swipe of his talons, poor rabbit’s head lay bodiless on the ground.  If sun and shadow I cannot be, then let me be the victim that you have chosen for me.  And with that, eagle took rabbit’s head and placed it down over his as his own.  He next dismembered rabbit’s paws placing one over each of his talons.  If chicken, porcupine and crow expect to find eagle, then they will be misled, for eagle is rabbit, but in place of his timidity, they will meet my temerity.

Seeing this, wolf, who on more than one occasion had demonstrated a penchant for following the leader of the pack, immediately took eagle’s lead and turned to ass who stood frozen over rabbit’s remains.  Ahhh dear ass, to such an imperative journey we have committed and yet you find levity in dear eagle’s misfortune.  Do you think us jesters performing a tease?  Ahhh dear eagle, ass takes us for fools . . . so a fool I must be.  And with those words, wolf lunged at ass and clamped down on ass’s throat with his jaws.  Ass expired quickly and, without delay, wolf used his jaws to clean out ass’s innards (quite unexpectedly enjoying the sensation of ass’s meat on his tongue).  He then took ass’s pelt and slung it across his back lowering ass’s skull down onto his own just as eagle had done before him with rabbit.  Hee-haw said wolf, what a fine ass I make.  Chicken, porcupine and crow shall observe the muddled approach of an ass, but in place of a fool, they will confront the method of a canid.

Fox was becoming uncomfortable with the direction to which things had turned.  The same could not be said for hyena and vulture who could not control their exhilaration over the goings on and who had begun to hop up and down in giddy excitement.  This would not do.  Fox realized it was time to fox and to fox quite well, otherwise, someone might want to fox in his place and start foxing with fox as their fine coat.  Fox would need to take control of the proceedings once again.

Ah my dear stag, of the four you remain alone without cover, but as you can see from example, cover would provide you with an element of surprise that would greatly add to your advantage.   Eagle, wolf and bear diminished themselves, but a stag of your import deserves a cover worthy of your mighty headdress.  My suggestion to you would be that of a bold blend.

Now stag had quite a difficult time making sense of fox, for fox’s words seemed to make little sense to stag. It was true that he was a stag of great import, but . . . alone without cover? It was rather clear to all in the hollow that stag’s antlers already served him quite well as both weapon and cover.  In their strength and their reach, they offered him advantage in the joust and by mirroring the form of the branch they already offered him concealment in the wood. A bold blend?  What nonsense is this?  Expecting a swelled ego, fox instead encountered stag’s nostrils flaring at this perceived impudence.  Stag’s right front hoof began hoofing at the ground.

Ahhh dear stag, allow me to make this concealment more clear.  It is true that your antlers provide you with cover, but they perform this task with such modesty.  They might offer you stealth to avoid an old lover, or even a humdrum acquaintance you flee.  But for the deed that confronts you it offers little cover, so allow me to offer advice in six words, . . . be the more that is less.  Be the more that is less, my dear eminent stag.  Why be content in the cover of branch, when a stag of your standing deserves the cover of tree.  With all of your might, grow out your antlers, and provide yourself with the cover a beast of your stature warrants.  Does a branch truly offer you requisite cover? Be the tree my dear stag.  For your sake, be the tree.

What I don’t understand fox, is how I could doubt you.  Blinded I was, but now I can see.  I will focus my mind and grow out my antlers.  Chicken, porcupine and crow will for sure rue the tree.  And with those words, stag turned within himself and drew up all the grow that his powerful body contained.  With a series of pushes, stag’s antlers began to extend.  They moved in inches at first, but then inches became feet.  Beam over palm, brow over bez, bay over trez, and tray over royal, stag’s antlers grew to disproportionate heights.  Soon stag’s antlers doubled his body in both span and height and his transformation had become complete.  Stag was now tree and could move about the forest with stealthy bravado.  So complete was his cover, that no sooner had stag finished his growth, than birds began to nest within his tines.  With a quick shake of his head, stag easily cast them away and then held his head so high that the span of his antlers seemed to broaden even more.  Stag held his head higher than he had ever done before, despite the newly added weight that burdened his crown.

Having extensively delayed the hunt with these unnecessary preparations, fox now felt secure in the buffer he had provided the long departed trio.  He spied his awaiting lunch, smiled a smile of accomplishment, and turned to the foursome to bid them adieu in the hope of returning to the more important matter at hand.  There was now a rumbling in his tummy that wafted through wood like the echo of distant thunder.  My dear brothers, I wish you good fortune on the road ahead.  Remember my advice, be less the you that you are and your success in this task will be assured.  Be more of what you are not and you shall always have an upper hand in your approach.  In summary, be less and be more of it.  Oh, and dear stag, don’t forget to be the more that is less as well.  Good fortune to you all.  And with those words, fox sat back down to his meal and the now very cold chrysanthemum tea.  And it would be of even littler concern to him.

Having positioned himself directly in front of a platter of the most delicious buttery biscuits that he would ever have the pleasure of devouring, Fox failed to notice that eagle, bear, wolf and stag had not moved a single step toward the road and were instead, now standing directly above fox.

Dear fox . . .

Yes, yes, yes, yes said fox, with intense disinterest.

But are you not ready to leave with us?

Fox sat frozen as if his veins were now filled with the cold chrysanthemum tea that was of no interest to him.

We are quite pleased with the counsel you have given us and are now quite grateful for your offer of assistance. You have proved to us the value and necessity of your company.  But we are curious.  Please do tell us what marvelous concealment will you craft to provide you cover on our approach?

With these words fox’s foxing had unpredictably taken a very, very, very, very, very wrong turn. How had he foxed himself here? Something must be done and done quickly. His mind, after the initial shock, began to fox as no fox had ever foxed before.  Stay . . . be more . . . camouflage . . . guard the wood . . . be the less that you are . . . watch for their return . . . dear stag, bear, wolf and eagle . . . be the more that is less . . . delay, delay, delay . . . what to do . . . what to do . . . WHAT TO DO?  And then it was clear.  Fox had lost control of his words.  Stag, eagle, wolf and bear now held them and were using them as their own.  They were no longer fox’s words, fox could no longer control them, and as a result, fox had allowed himself to be cornered up a tree.  Sometimes, even the foxiest of foxes winds up cornered up a tree, for that too, is the way of foxes. Poor fox had but one choice. He would have to go.  And by going, more foxing could be done to now salvage poor old fox’s skin.

He took a deep breath, took a moment to admire the feast he had so nearly deservedly enjoyed, tipped his head to the foursome, and rose to his feet.  Upward and onward fox yelped as the biscuits before him now seemed to be taking on the smell of rancid butter.  A deserving cover I deserve and a deserving cover I shall make.  In words that never felt the crispness of the air, fox now began to think hard. For this journey, the me that I am must not be seen for the me that I be. To save my hide in this matter I must offer up another hide that will allow me to move and change quickly, since my words, for the time being, no longer offer me that cover.  My cover must be like my words, only less wordy.  With this, fox spied vulture standing over the remains of rabbit and ass and his cover came quite clear.

Cutting squares from rabbit’s and ass’s remains, fox began to weave a prodigious afghan of pelts.  He took feathers from vulture and eagle.  He took velvet from stag, and gathered some of the charred remains of bear.  Even hyena gave fox a tuft of fur.  He took old shells from snail, and borrowed a wart or two from frog (that wasn’t the first wart that had ever been borrowed from frog who had a penchant for giving them away quite easily).  He found the feathers left behind by peacock and chicken and came across a feather lost by crow.  He took mud from pig.  He even found a spine from porcupine with a butterfly pierced upon it.  He took all these things and wove them into a coat that was tailored by his hand to a perfect fit.  He took his pelt and laid it upon his shoulders and as it warmly wrapped his skin, fox was at once fox and yet also a little bit of all those around him.  Fox was at once fox and not fox at all.  He was more than fox and more than the other of all the others. More than the more of any of the other mores thus far.  In matters of stealth, fox was now the greatest of all foxes and yet not fox at all. He was the greatest of all others and yet not them either.  And all those around him, who could now see themselves in fox, whispered in a hush of awe.  To this day, if you listen quite closely to the hum of the forest, the words fox is the greatest of all foxes can still be heard wisping through the air forever on its way up into the sky.

VIII. With goose and meadow far behind them, chicken, porcupine and crow continued on the path that took them even farther away from wood.  Although they had walked for quite some time since leaving goose, their thoughts remained with him.  Goose was goose and so much more than goose in that he was as one with the world that had risen from him. So much were they learning, so little did they understand, and so much were they now beginning to see. The trio spied sideways glances at each other.  Chicken thought he saw porcupine and crow.  Crow thought he saw chicken and porcupine.  And porcupine thought he saw chicken and crow.  And yet, they were just beginning to see the more of the more they thought they had already seen in each other back at the hollow.  In fact, they were much less the more they had previously understood.  From their eyes flowed tears that yearned for what was left behind.  For goose.  For meadow.  For goose and meadow. For the comfort of wood and home.  Their tears had not stopped flowing since their departure from goose.  But wood was no longer home and meadow was not theirs nor could it be.  Meadow was goose and meadow would never be far enough away from wood to escape wood’s wrath.

But although their thoughts persisted on goose and meadow, their brisk stride and firm gait took them elsewhere.  And with each step, chicken, porcupine and crow were now becoming less the peacock, butterfly and rooster that they thought they had become.  They were also becoming less the chicken, crow, and porcupine they had always been. Without realizing it, with each step they’d taken since leaving meadow, chicken, porcupine and crow were moring through the act of lessing.  A long day of walking had taken them far from meadow and wood, and also themselves, and as night began to settle around them, they arrived at the end of the path upon which they had traveled.  At the edge of their world, with uncertainty before them, the trio felt an unexpected lightness about them.  Maybe it was the cool of dusk overtaking the heat of the day.  Maybe it was just the clarity of the world around them brought on by the evening’s lifting of haze. Or maybe it was because they had finally, truly, begun to cast off the burden of themselves that they had borne. The lightness may have simply come from the promise of the unknown that lay before them.

In truth, the lightness they felt was probably the result of a physically palpable lack of density present in the air. For here, miles outside the din of their old home, the sky did not suffer the weight of unnecessary words that had always pushed down hard on wood at its center.

For whatever the reason, they felt at ease.  A quietly simple silence surrounded them and in the cool of evening, the warmth of their tears felt good against their skin as they flowed to the ground.  Little did the trio realize, however, that their tears were not the only things that had flowed down to ground and earth that day.

Now, it should be known that goose had been quite a good goose throughout his life.  Goose was an excellent honker, and felt at home whether he was on the ground, in the sky or on the sea.  In fact, many might even say that, prior to being meadow, goose had rather excelled at doing all things goosey that good geese do. Weaving, however, being a more natural virtue of spider, was just not one of those goosey things that goose did well.

Sadly for our trio, a close examination of goose’s satchel would have confirmed that.  Goose’s satchel was quite a handsome and fine looking little satchel. But upon a closer examination, one would find an opening here and an opening there. There were gaps in the weave all throughout and the seams were quite poorly reinforced. And at the worst of all locations, at the bottom rear corner of goose’s fine looking satchel, lay the slightest of openings, just slightly larger than a pea.  And from that pea sized opening, seed had flowed in a slow trickle to the ground as the trio walked upon the path.  But that wasn’t all, because as they had been walking, onto those seed fell tears of hope and loss and the promise of all the good things that made chicken, porcupine and crow the who they might someday be.  Those were tears of reflection, realization and promise.  Those were the tears of nurture, and just as they had in the meadow, those tears fed those seeds.  An empty path of uncertainty certainly lay before chicken, porcupine and crow.  But behind them, lay a perfectly drawn line of flowering hope that marked their steps through the world upon having left meadow and goose.  That would have normally been a wonderfully poetic thing, but not when you are being pursued by stag, wolf, bear, and eagle.

Unaware of the trail they had left, the trio stood peacefully at path’s end, with weary legs, tired minds, and empty stomachs.  How they wished they had finished the feast at wood and were now home in the comfort of their beds. With wood far behind them, a wall of low thicket ahead, stars above, and the moon now rising to light the dimming night, chicken, porcupine and crow found a clearing of dirt by the side of the path and set themselves down to rest for the night.  They scooped up a handful of seed from the satchel and evenly spread them over the clearing.  With the tears that they shed, the seed turned to bloom and they made for themselves a bed of flowers upon which they could rest their weary bodies and calm their overworked minds.  Their stomachs still empty, the trio hunted about the small clearing for whatever food they could gather to settle their hunger.  With little success they sat themselves down on their beds and all three glimpsed the satchel of seeds.  The temptation was great. And porcupine spoke.

Why not partake in the gift that was offered.  It will feed and complete us, so far outside wood.  It will satiate our hunger and give us asylum.  It will end us this torment and bring us some good.  Porcupine had spoken the words, but those words had also been identically forming in the minds of chicken and crow.  Porcupine just got them out faster. Eat us dear friends so that we may take rise.  The seed was calling out to the three.  Alas, temptation, temptation, temptation . . ..   And yet, although the words had taken shape in their minds, the trio resisted them. Despite seeds allure, porcupine’s words rang empty, and deep down inside, all three knew why. Chicken spoke.

The seed came to goose at the end of his journey.  He knew not their power, nor what they would do.  Transformation was frightful, yet he welcomed its coming.  And in this sole way, his rebirth was true. But that was not their story, and this was not their fate.  The seed, which were so much a start for goose and for meadow, were merely just a bed for the trio. They could not be goose, and they could not be meadow.  And the seed would not make for them the home that goose and meadow had come to so unknowingly and so naturally.  They were beginning to understand much, not the least of which being that their time with goose, and the long empty moments spent on the path that day, had in fact not been so empty.  It had allowed them to come more closely to an understanding of themselves and their world.

The satchel remained on the ground untouched but their hunger also remained unsated.  What to do, what to do, what to do? Chicken looked up to the moon and inspired by her warm, full face, broke into song at the top of her less than rooster lungs.  As much as chicken thought herself rooster, chicken was still very much chicken.  Instead of a rooster’s song, what came out was an uninspired cackling cluck that scratched at the ears of both porcupine and crow.  Chicken needed a great deal of work on her roostering and both porcupine and crow looked up at the moon to curse her inspiring presence in the hope that ...

 

 

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