Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Compass of My Heart

Displayed until May 29 at City Hall in Santa Fe, this intricate drawing came to me in a dream:
A Compass glinted between Raven’s feet as he lengthened his legs to land. It had been a bad day—a friend in Florida had been shot, not killed, by some crazy teenager with a 357 Magnum the color of raven feathers.
Raven, as gravel-voiced as Tom Waits, announced his arrival. I offered a flat hand, palm up, as one would to a dog, my mother’s voice in my ear, “Always palm up, so they won’t be threatened,” she’d whisper, the thin white scar from the bite embroidered right above her eyebrow. Big dogs scared her. She tried to pass on her fears to me, but I decided to just be polite to the muscled boxer down the street, saying “Excuse me,” if I ran by him.
“Don’t run; he’ll chase you. They can smell fear,” warned my mother, but for much of my life I have smelled like musk and exotic flowers.
Raven released a silvery roundel that fit well into the palm of my hand. The sun’s shadow quivered like a hound as tiny animal shapes in turquoise and black marble moved restlessly around the sides.
Raven danced next to me, scratching out a tune in the dirt as I examined the intricate inlay of purple sugalite, orange coral and bright turquoise.
Wings whisked the air as he lofted onto my shoulder, nuzzling his beak into my hair.
“What is this?” I asked him as he preened me, rubbing his head against mine, combing through my hair with his beak, tickling along my hairline.
“Pay attention to what I’ve brought you,” he murmured.
I stroked his head and back, trying to read the compass of my heart.


Anonymous said...

Mariachis? You've got to be kidding....this is a beautiful drawing and the story that accompanies it is just as engaging.
Congratulations on yet another Beth Surdut treasure.

Cha Lee said...

beautiful work Beth. Corvoids of the compass are surely proud. Have you discussed magnetic declination with your friend though? You may be as much as 22 degrees off. Still works at that angle. May your life be ever orthoganal. Cha

Kim Northrop said...

this is a great piece Beth. It would have made a great poster.

Beth Surdut, Visual Storyteller said...

Despite an engineer's expectations, there's no needle on the compass, so I can go wherever my heart takes me.