STELLAR DUST, YELLOWED FOLIOS and ZEPHYR’s FRIED LENTILS

to my family and friends…

Moments of anxiety you endure on my behalf are not lost to me: you think I dream too much… And I do.

Embarrassing lapses are a common event… At a time when I feel landlocked as everyone else rides a wave of celebration, raises gaudy banners to the clamor of trumpets, I find myself transported to Zephyr’s fried lentils…

The reason I love limes, small, tight breasts of olivine wood-nymphs, lies faraway, and long ago, locked in Zephyr’s lentils… I am stellar dust, a dandelion seed riding cosmic currents, soaring back in time.

Before arriving at lentils, I see a hazy hurricane lamp, a lumpy footpath, it’s the threshold to Zephyr’s shack, then raffia baskets wide open like massive seashells brimming with celestial offerings: toffee wrapped in foil, betel leaves filled with cardamon and anise, and heaps of jaggery, home to errant wasps. Then stacks of loose yellowed folios, ripped from old sex manuals…paper is precious…then rock salt the color of satinspar, chili powder breathing like live embers. Finally an animated ball of snakes, Zephyr’s dark hands, slender contortionists replete with serpentine ways, but permanently misshapen from rolling too many betel leaves, and paper cones for children to hold hot lentils in.

There’s no other way of describing this except, starting from the beginning :

Zephyr grabs a folio, flicks off an acidic page covered with frozen armies of black ants, instructions really, in Goudy Old Style, from an Englishman’s 1940s sex manual: “After full erection is achieved, grasp the member firmly and attempt penetration…” in a split second the paper is curled to conical perfection, into which he scoops warm noisy lentils bathed in saffron light, then the crunch of rock salt on top of dormant fire of chilies that galvanizes upon contact with your tongue…then FLASH! A fragrant green wedge is crushed into that delectable heap. I relish the ones at the very core, zesty lentils that have become tender sponges, touched with black of printer’s pigment, full of a juice of paradoxical sensations: savory, coldly tart, hot with the heat of chilies for a masochist’s brief pleasure.

I like to lick the titillating paper: what fills my mouth tastes like primordial soup to me, heady with ink of life… “After ejaculation, it is recommended that withdrawal not be too abrupt…” this is how fetishes are made, I imagine…

You worry that what day’s end brings me is a meager basket lined with faded gold of crushed Mariposa wings, flowerless hills, a diminished self. Yes, I stand eroded a little more each day; by banshee winds where I taste clouds, by whipped waves of razor sands which pound striated knees… I am a Death Valley formation of red sandstone, a butte, a mesa, hourglass astride hourglass, blazing with the setting sun’s passion.

And exfoliation takes its toll as well. Sweet rainwater turns heavy as it drinks from me cascading down interstices of my soul, cooling its molten core that a relentless sun expands every day. Deep fissures appear which deeper fingers of betrayal, treachery, compassion and love dig into, pry apart, reach in palpate my heart…then helter-skelter attempt a patch-up job.

Each day I am regenerated, each day annihilates me.

Oh yes. I know all about Prometheus, Sisyphus, Tantalus — together we have toiled, bled and agonized, watched in awe Titanic battles rage and rock the earth.

Up and down tunnels of ageless Time I glide, an old old spirit, spinning silk from cobwebs, tapestries from grasses. With me the inscrutable Sphinx breaks bread as a magnificent dawn spreads apricot veils over an indigo desert… A sapphire bowl is emptied of diamonds…

You fear in my seclusion lies fear of reckoning, fear of success, that from a house of glass one can only see rain, never feel its concupiscence. An unfrequented life stands frozen in an exiguous daguerreotype, shades of a murky aquatint, a lonely voyeur in a glass-bottomed boat that forever hovers over luminescent coral reefs as deep blue enigmas remain untouched, unexplored…

You worry that I am an empath. You worry that I am a synesthete.

I taste glossy leaves covered with mute pain as they soak up the fading image of their mother-of-pearl child — Slowly receding, a plucked gardenia. Mute with pain of separation, bottle green leaves thirst blindly as the distance grows. And they cannot weep, nor scream as I can.

You worry too much. How hard can it be to pull out the splinters of an ad hoc life?

In my mind’s eye live worlds enough…

Farida Haque

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Farida Haque

Multimedia artist, writer, poet. ‘Celebrating other lives, I am a sparrow in the shadow of a rosebush...’ faridahaque@gmail.com