the invisibilities of ilhabela


This is what Jandira told me—

The invisibilities will ascend from ground and green,
from fields of stubbled corn and furrowed dirt,
from the Amazonic jungle
through the tree lines to the turbulence above.

Now I’m perched in a jacaranda,
and set to fade like Carroll’s cat, the great auk and the dodo,
with my telescope trained on the far horizon
where the welded night’s creation is rising with the dawn.

Freestyle prophets and fierce believers are gathered on the beach below,
Maria from the bakery and José from the Ilhabela market,
waving tea towel flags and pillowslip pennants,
fluttering wind vanes with uncertain compass.

The mighty leviathan stops in deeper water, and I count
seven cast iron statues on the deck,
with glyphs in old Atlantean labeling its hull.
Gearwheels crank an obsidian drawbridge
shuddering to the shore, and the exodus begins.

I weave my spyglass across the crowd and it finds Jandira,
with little Amelie in her arms and Pedro by her side.

Our time for warm embraces, for forgiveness
and goodbyes has passed. Even regret has a use-by date,
and I stay hidden in the branches and the solitude I chose.

I didn’t listen,
I didn’t know that logic only runs from A to B,
that understanding has never been a friend of innocence.

By night the beach is only imprints, the sky’s refulgence
a sickly fireworks display, and the roiling storm
cannot support its weightiest clouds, I watch them
arcing down, falling to the sea.

Some harsh primeval god is rewinding nature’s
clock spring, a new cycle has begun,
and at last the jacaranda
is torn from mother earth
and I’m carried spinning upward
to the maelstrom.

Telescopes were used to symbolize madness in eighteenth century art, perhaps to indicate a loss of moral compass. I prefer binoculars. Ilhabela (‘beautiful island’) lies off the Brazilian coast between Rio and São Paulo, and I’ve spent a number of very enjoyable holidays there.

invisibilities—numerical abstract art

14 thoughts on “the invisibilities of ilhabela

    • Thanks. I first heard about that in an art doco, can’t remember the painter, but the scene he painted was in a madhouse and someone had a telescope. Anyway it’s at least as true as anything else on the internet :).

    • Thanks, glad you liked it. I’m currently reading through Peter Porter’s ‘Rest on the Flight’ poetry collection again. It’s a bit mystifying but not completely baffling and I enjoy it.

  1. I love the way you seat such different images right next to each other – prophets and believers beside Maria and Jose. Tea towels and wind vanes near Leviathans and glyphs. And my favorite Cheshire cat. Beautiful!

    • Glad you enjoyed. I’m not good at high fantasy although I enjoy reading/watching it. I’m stuck with writing the way I see ordinary people like me behaving, which isn’t elves flitting around in New Zealand forests. This is despite actually coming across a prophet in white robes with a band of followers on a deserted beach in Ilhabela. I agree with the rainbirds–everything is ordinary :).

  2. ordinary people do the strangest things – if everything is ordinary then the strange is in everything – the elves are all around us, not just in our forests – and as ordinary as you and me – there’s one beside me now combing its whiskers 🙂

    • I agree, and that’s what keeps the world interesting, all the Waters of March and people just being people. Oh, and the wood ducks would like me to pass on their greetings to your elven visitor, if I understand their quacks correctly.

    • I might have just made that name up, but it’s kind of true, because I’m developing computer code to try to do some new things based on math principles used for numerical analysis (not particularly for images like photoshop and so on). All my current artwork uses the code, it’s still very much experimental trial and error.

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