Years in the Making

A desert monolith rises against a blue and white cloud sky
“Years in the Making”, 8in x 8in, acrylic on canvas

It would be unwise, you cautioned me, to ask the wind how old it is, unless we wanted to hear a tale that takes an age to tell.

This much we knew: The wind is old enough to remember the rivers that carved a barren plain into these towering monuments. But the land-cutting rivers are gone. They flowed back to the sea long ago, carrying away the debris and leaving dry streambeds behind. 

Water that falls now as sparse desert rain lacks the vigor to wear away rock. So the finishing touches have been left to the eroding wind, which shapes with sandblasting gales and chisels with precision gusts to complete the red-stone sculptures.

I just wish it wasn’t at work the day we were there.

I pulled my jacket tighter around me as we hiked toward one of the formations. “They could have put up a sign: Under Construction. Opening Soon.”

You looked back at me. “It won’t be done soon, not by a long shot.”

“I was thinking in geologic time.” It can make the days less troubling. Dramas of the world signify little when measured against the ages of rocks.

Yet even at this stage of completion, the monument was impressive. Imagine what it will be like when finished, I thought…

This rock sculpture will make a fine addition to the collection of any savvy admirer of the artistic team of Water & Wind. Millions of years in the making. Locally crafted from locally-sourced materials. Bidding starts at—

“What are you mumbling about?”

“I was just…” Um. “We’ve come a bit too early then.” Again, in geologic time.

“We might as well see it while we can. They don’t make them like this anymore.”

True. Monuments today are cobbled together with bronze or concrete or twisted sheets of avant-garde steel, then proudly displayed in a city square or manicured park, where they’re politely ignored for a few generations before suddenly being denounced as not sufficiently enlightened for the moral fashions of the times.

But long after that fashionable generation has degenerated to dust, these magnificent desert monoliths will still be standing, far removed from outcries over once-cherished statues now lying forgotten and crumbling in dark museum basements. 

The works of nature are rarely controversial. Perhaps because they’re commissioned by vested interests no one dares to question.

The wind eased up, blew a few dirt-clearing puffs, then stopped, taking a break from its labor. In the silence and calm a lizard skittered across a rock. A buzzard took flight to look for a meal.

You guided my eyes to the sky-notch in the formation. “We start our ascent there.”

Woven Spirits

Three flowers overlap against a cosmically-colored background
“Woven Spirits”, 8in x 8in, acrylic on canvas

These flowers may have flown here from abroad, disturbed by a passing Persian caravan, kicked into the wind by careless hooves that sent them whirling around the world.

“It’s been a long journey for them,” you say. “Their scent is of a time long past.”

I nod. “They’re certainly not from anywhere near here.”

I like to think they came from a distant star. Or, less poetically, from some suffering planet that ejected them in a maelstrom and discarded them into the drift-streams of space. 

“You can still see the cosmic background glow they picked up along the way,” I suggest.

“But why,” you ask, “should these three stay together?”

“They must have a connection.” 

Tied to one another by like-minded purpose. It’s lonely out there, after all. One needs friends, or fellow travelers.

You turn the flowers carefully in your hand.

You’re still thinking about that caravan.

Then Arose the Undeep

Two massive mountain peaks against an unsettled sky
“Then Arose the Undeep”, 12in x 9in, acrylic on canvas

“Here? It can’t be.” 

We stood on a hillock above the wasteland, seeing nothing but a turbulent blue-and-red sky, where clouds rolled and stretched and shredded into vapor.

“It will come,” you said.

Yes. Rising up and up, out of the depths and into awareness. So the tales foretold.

The wind whipped around us, slipped under collars, and parted our hair as if to probe our minds. It wanted us gone so no eyes would witness what was to come.

I didn’t think it wise to stand there exposed. “We could fall, or be taken up.” Or miss out on a bland recurring day, safe at home.

“No. We must be here for this.”

You were right. 

Years from now, when travelers follow smooth paths to climb these peaks; when the land around flows with life of nature’s own design; when villagers settle the valley to graze livestock on grassy slopes — we can recall the day we saw the deep-bound giants rise.

The wind slowed and the air turned heavy, sinking into a sigh. 

Any minute now.

The ground before us rumbled, heaved, and heaved some more. The mounded plain split into a fissure miles long and vented an earthy groan.

You grabbed my hand, or I grabbed yours.

Rocky cones poked through the gap, shaking off dirt and boulders as they pushed upward. The peaks joined at the bases, forming a massive mountain range that rose higher and higher until its ridgeline sawtoothed the space between earth and sky.

And there it stood before us — emergent stone from underground, brought forth to tower above and reshape the world.

You drew a breath and whispered, “The Undeep.”