Monday, March 30, 2015

Nocturne



Driving for hours through empty country at night will play tricks of scale on a tired mind. You may know that the reassuring, steady thrum of the engine is really thousands upon thousands of explosions happening mere feet away. You may comprehend that that tiny dot of coloured light, miles away across the silent plains, is a bustling truck stop, noisy and redolent of diesel fumes. You may come to understand that the city of red lights on the horizon is a place where no one lives, just row upon serried row of giant turbines on slow blink, each lazily rotating blade a cleaver capable of slicing through the metal box in which you travel. But you will perceive the whole as peaceful, hypnotic, even hallucinatory.

As a photographer, you may want to capture some of the wildlife along the way: the owls, the kangaroo rats, the jackrabbits, the javelina. Instead, you'll remember the way you perceive their movement from the car: the almost imperceptible fluttering of ear tufts in a breeze too light to sway the twigs of the cottonwood in which a great horned sits watching; the headlong, almost suicidal bounding of k-rats in the headlights, inexplicably always toward the road; the easy lope of hares down the back-road verge—not one of them is as fast as the car, but somehow they are winning as a relay, always another one taking its start from in front of you, mile upon mile upon mile; the surprisingly delicate tiptoe steps of a herd of wild pigs crossing the road in a Sonoran desert neighbourhood, like a street gang in ballet shoes.

You will, eventually, remove the key from the ignition, open the door, and step from the car into the cool of the darkness. You will stand, and stretch, and shake your head, trying to dispel the exhaustion. And, gazing up at a sky scattershot with uncountable stars, you will remember the drive, the monotony distilling into singular moments to which you alone are privy, which could happen on no other planet in all that vastness, and you will want to strap right back in and do it all again.

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