Memories are Harlequin dancers flitting across the bare stage of our minds
January 27, 2013
The hillsides in the Ozarks bloom with memories.
Memories are harlequin dancers, tricksters garbed in multihued tights flitting across a bare stage in the deep recesses of the mind. The footlights cast their shadows as if they were beings in another dimension, and the figures pirouette and glide and leap like human gazelles, flashing chrome yellow, viridian, crimson, white, black, pink, all the colors of the rainbow and all the colors of the vast universe.
One of the dancers pauses and the footlights pulse as the harlequin radiates chromatic symbols that sound like a Chopin nocturne, delicate music with deep pools and trembling ripples, as if the notes were a sunlit stream coursing past grassy green banks, a singing without words.
I enter from stage left and embrace the harlequin memory and we dance in a graveful silence that is like a reverie. Yes, the hills are green, flocked with comely cedars standing on tip-toe as if daring the wind to nestle in their branches, and nearby, the scaly-barked hickory looks on with a haughty air as if its homeliness were a virtue, and the oaks nod with approval as the wildflowers give off their scents and join the breeze with secret messages from olden times.
How do you explain the way memory works, or from whence comes that sweet breeze, that creeksong full of colored lights and sprays full of tiny rainbows? How do you explain the musty smell of earth when you fill your palm with the richness of centuries, loam that teases the nostrils with ancient scents of florid gardens and graceful swans floating on a pond filled with water lilies and exotic orchids floating like rare butterflies on slender green stems?
If you cannot explain such things, you can write about them, or paint them, or sing them in a special language with a musical score that seems to have been written by a fairy on a golden harp. Strange ethereal music, odd melodic words that seem to have sprung from dashing electrons borne from some far corner of space, and a canvas bright with dazzling colors and deep shadows that seemed to stretch into eternity.
The harlequin’s clown face becomes animated with a smile, the oversized ruby lips widen and reveal rows of teeth white as Carrera marble and she begins tearing off the colored squares of her costume and tossing them into the air. They flutter in between shadows and stagelights, revealing their secret messages of all-but forgotten memories: a twilight hollow where a doe and her fawn descend to the edge of Bull Shoals Lake, where the water glistens with an abstract oil painting; children picking wild berries in a thick patch of tangled vines, their pails filling up with ebony nuggets tinged with streaks of vermillion; a woman sitting on a porch with a dulcimer on her lap, plucking rhythmic sounds of long ago days in Tennessee and Virginia; mallards swimming on a pond, drake and hen, their wakes streaming magenta and gold ribbons across a pastel mirror that reflects the pale blue sky, the cottony galleons of clouds as the sun sinks like a 20-dollar gold piece below the rim of the world; music pouring from a theater in Branson while carlights stream along Highway 76 like electric toys through canyons of motels, restaurants and theaters, with dusk hanging beyond the ridge like dusky shrouds over an ocean of dull green hills.
Memory after memory floats across the stage and out into the audience that sits rapt at the beauty of each precious image, silent as gravestones, eyes reflecting each precious gem polished to a high brilliance by some unseen force.
And, here and there, a poet writes down phrases that capture those fleeing memories. A writer sits at a typewriter or a computer and reaches for the words that will explain all this beauty and somewhere in the audience, a reader is grateful for the books and magazines that hold these memories that shine on their pages like jewels in a velvet-lined box made of silver.
So, the stage darkens and the dancers disappear in the wings. But memories float and soar long after the curtains close and the theater of the mind closes.
It is quiet, very quiet, as if the world is asleep.
And, the stars wink down at the darkened earth like wise sentinels gazing at a land transformed into an Eden, where grows the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. A perfect place, basking in the solace of eternal memories that seem to have beginnings, but no end.