For this Father’s Day ~

FeaturedFor this Father’s Day ~

For this Father’s Day, a favorite passage from Genesis, Part I of Idolatry, the meeting of the sculptor Apollonius and the boy Myron ~

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… It was just so, late one evening. He had worked through the night and day prior on another mausoleum frieze, trying to reach a state of exhaustion and numbness that would overwhelm him enough that he could sleep. In the scene, the mourners surrounding the dead body were distraught; all were focused on the deceased except one figure – a man who had turned to look out at the viewer, searching for an unfindable answer. His face was sorrow incarnate.

Apollonius sat on the floor, his head fallen, his body bowed over and so tired that he could no longer lift his arms, and still his soul hurt too much to rest. The tears began to fall, making silent splashes in the marble dust on the floor, as the night’s last candle burned low.

He sniffed – and heard an echoing sniff, disembodied, not his own. He sniffed again. Another small sniffle answered. He opened his eyes to find a toddler sitting on the floor next to him, gazing up at the funereal scene, tears rolling down the urchin’s dust-caked cheeks. He was begrimed but beautiful, with auburn-bronze curls and hazel eyes flecked with umber and gold. The bedraggled cloth draping his little body was a dirty rectangle of coarse, undyed wool, a hole cut out for the head. Of the pins meant to hold the sides of the cloth together, one had torn loose, the other had ripped nearly away and was hanging by only a few threads.

Seeing Apollonius’s distraught face, the boy began crying all the harder. The two looked at each other and cried on, emptying the depths of their grief until Apollonius could no longer bear the pathos, such a pitiable outpouring from such a flawless creature who surely could know so little yet of pain, a mere child with the prospect of a lifetime of joys before him. The scene had become an absurd injustice, and from somewhere in Apollonius’s soul, from a place he had thought had long died, something rose through the thick sadness, bubbling upwards to escape –

He laughed.

It was an agonized laugh, a pained laugh, but a laugh nonetheless, and the boy, in turn, laughed at the sound of it. Apollonius put his arm around the boy and pulled him close. The two cried and laughed together until the candle flickered its last, until the forlorn faces on the frieze had vanished into the blanketing darkness, until sleep overcame the night….

******
To enjoy more of the Idolatry story ~ https://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Idolatry-Book-Q…/…/B00MUWOWDW

For this “Earth Day”

FeaturedFor this “Earth Day”

For this “Earth Day,” a passage from A New Eden, Part II of Idolatry. The year, 1852:

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…When the day ended and darkness fell, Thomas walked away from the wagon train and into the wilderness, headed south with a vague notion of going to Mexico, with nothing on his person but the clothes on his back, the knife on his belt and, in his satchel, a flint, a small package of hardtack and dried beef, and his father’s edition of Lyell’s Principles of Geology.

Through the night and the next day he walked, seeing not a trace of humanity and scant signs of wildlife. The next evening he found himself standing atop a high hill overlooking a desolate valley.

Close to the west, a range of snow-tipped mountains rose like the ramparts of a citadel. At the valley’s south end lay a shallow marsh fed by snowmelt, mostly dried up from the long summer’s heat, miles of alkali flats left in the ebb. The mountain shadows were growing long across the valley floor. The desert heat was cooling rapidly as the sky began to shift into the loveliest, most vivid palette he had ever seen—a parasol of pastels over hills turning tangerine and deep saffron, the mountains tinted cornflower-blue and violet. He gathered enough deadfall and brush for a small fire and, after a light supper, nestled down beside a low wall of stone he built to hold the fire’s heat. After reading a chapter of Lyell by firelight, he slept, with moonlight for his blanket and a stone for his pillow.

He spent three days alone on the summit—reading, thinking, remembering his father, considering his future, weighing his options, taking in the view. On the fourth morning, the fire had gone cold in the night. The scant supply of brush and wood on the summit was exhausted, as was his meager store of food. But looking out over the valley, he judged it to be the most beautiful place he had ever seen. The assessment was, he knew, due in no small part to the fact that he, Thomas Thornton Hale, was the only person in the valley. He had never enjoyed the luxury of having even the smallest corner of earth he could call his own. He and his father had shared the bedroom of their two-room cabin. On the wagon trail, a person had to venture over a hill or around a stand of trees for any privacy from fellow travelers. He looked around him that morning, from the rocks at his feet to the far horizons, and he said—“My hill.” He said it to himself and to the land and to the sky—“My hill. My valley. My world.”

There was no one there to dispute his claim. And so it was so.

He wanted to memorialize the moment and the place, but there was nothing resembling a flag or stake to plant in the ground. He had burned all of the loose wood. Other than rocks and scattered scrub, the only thing of substance left nearby was a barely living, severely torqued tree—an ancient bristlecone pine, wide at its base, with stunted arms and spindly fingers reaching for the sky, a few clusters of needles still surviving in the branches, roots clinging tenaciously to the back side of the summit. Other than a narrow strip of bark running up one side, the twisted torso and limbs were all but denuded, the exposed wood blanched white and polished smooth and hard as stone by the elements. Thomas carved his initials and the date into the trunk with his knife.

Having left his mark, he wanted something of the place to take with him. Over the past days, he had noticed a long thin vein of reddish quartz, not more than a few inches wide, cutting diagonally across the summit like a scar, exposed between the upended layers of porphyritic strata. Scattered pieces of the quartz had broken off at the surface. He chose one the size of a dove’s egg and put it in his pocket.

He was ready to rejoin civilization. There were things he needed to do before he could return to the valley….

*****

Read more…

For this Mothers Day, an excerpt ~

FeaturedFor this Mothers Day, an excerpt ~

For this Mothers Day, I offer an excerpt from the current draft for IDOLATRY, Part III, The Fruit of the Tree (working title):

The lines had shuffled forward. Paige found herself standing next to the mother. The baby, bundled in her arms, had settled and calmed. He was so beautiful, so right, his blue eyes as clear and complete as little planets, encircled with rays of long blond lashes. His lips were ripe petals, formed for ready suckling. His ivory skin was of the most translucent, softest white marble imaginable, a glowing blush in the cheeks only the most accomplished painter might capture. Every little hillock and vale of his little body’s topography, every rise and fall, every curve and round—it was all mere suggestion of the man to come, all mere promise, and yet, here he was, already present, already real. And flawless. To mothers everywhere, in all times, all but the most unfortunate babies are perfection, but Paige simply couldn’t imagine any woman wanting anything more or less than what this woman held in arms—a complete little world in himself, needing and wanting nothing more, lacking nothing, being everything. There was nothing to add, nothing to subtract, nothing to change. This—this perfect little thing should be untouchable, undefilable, always and forever. How could anything on earth or in heaven be more perfect and whole, in and unto itself? If only it could remain so, if only he might never come to know a moment of sorrow, of pain, of evil, of disappointment. Paige wanted to draw a circle of protection around him, an impenetrable halo of sacredness, to suspend time.

She was blinking away a welling wetness in her eyes. An ache had come to her heart, her stomach: she herself would never have that. She would never have what this woman had. She had never really even wanted it until now, never wanted a child, but at this moment, she found herself wanting it more than anything in the world. How could any woman not?

She looked up to find the mother watching her. Her eyes understood. Woman to woman, the one knew the other’s ache, recognizing the depth of the longing in a woman-child who had lost her own mother, a daughter who wanted nothing more, in that moment, than to be a mother herself.

The mother glanced down at her child, and back up to Paige. Wordlessly, she asked the question.

Paige could only nod, blinking back tears, stunned at the kindness of the offering, a place inside her heart breaking open.

As she accepted the baby, her arms naturally, gently formed around him. It felt so right. She felt her entire body warm with joy. He was so small, so light. She gazed into the blue orbs, perfect worlds of their own, as they gazed back into hers. She marveled the beauty of the little face in all its wondrous glory. He was staring back into a face that was new to him, too, seemingly as fascinated with her as she with him. Her rocking sway, the gentle bounce, had started without her realizing or intending it. She began humming a melody. Her lullaby. Skye’s lullaby….

*****

Parts I & II of Idolatry are available in ebook, paperback and audiobook on Amazon….

Martin Eichinger’s Lullaby

available in limited-edition through

Quent Cordair Fine Art in Napa, CA

www.cordair.com

(707) 255-2242

The real meaning of Earth Day

FeaturedThe real meaning of Earth Day

For this Earth Day, a brief passage from Chapter 3 of A New Eden, Part II of Idolatry:

*****
The sun had risen high. The breeze was warm on their faces. Ian produced a bottle of chilled white wine and two glasses, removed the cork, and poured. He raised a toast.

“To another day in paradise.”

She touched her glass to his. They drank, the sunbeams reflecting off the wine and the glasses, dancing across their faces, splashing in their eyes. The wine was crisp, light and good.

“Paradise . . .” she mused aloud.

He had used the word without a trace of sarcasm or irony. The dry ruins beneath their feet, the surrounding hills, and the alkali flats were predominantly in chalky browns, yellows and whites. The sparse native vegetation was all of the scrubby, hardier varieties, evolved over the eons to survive the long droughts, blazing summers and freezing winters of the high desert. From the reservoir, her eye followed the river, the presumable source of all things green in the valley proper. There were bends in the river’s line, but other segments were unwaveringly straight – it wasn’t a natural river at all, but a manmade canal.

“Paradise – ” She smiled at the epiphany – “just add water.”

Ian had laid out an offering of cheese, olives, fruit, and finger sandwiches. “When the first explorers came through this way,” he said, pausing to sample a strawberry, “the valley was a desolate wasteland. There was hardly a reason to even note it on the maps. Most of the early settlers passed north of here, following the Humboldt River west. The few who detoured this far south saw little if anything to recommend the valley – they barely paused on their way to California.”

Paige watched his eyes. They were shaded by the brim of his cowboy hat, following the lay of the land with an easy acceptance and steady intent. His body was relaxed, at one with the place, as if he too had sprouted from the earth here, watered and grown by the river that was a canal. She followed his gaze, trying to imagine the unwelcoming, harsh emptiness that the valley must have been.

“But one man came,” he said, “and that man stood alone on the top of this hill, above where we are now. He envisioned a paradise in this place – and proceeded to make it so.”

There was solemnity in his voice. Paige set her glass quietly on the stone. “Do tell. . . .” she urged.

He glanced at her, studying her in the same steady way he studied the land. Adjusting his hat, he took a bite of an olive, followed it with a sip of wine, and looked out to the horizon and beyond.

“At the time, that man wasn’t even a man yet – ” he said, letting the story begin – “but a boy.”

***

Enjoy the acclaimed IDOLATRY series in paperback, audiobook, and ebook ~ https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B072HTC1FV

 

None more wondrous or impressive . . .

FeaturedNone more wondrous or impressive . . .

Never has there been a god or goddess more wondrous or impressive than the wondrous and impressive beings after whom they were modeled. Man is quite incapable, thank goodness, of inventing an entity more remarkable or exalted than himself. The gods are nothing more, nothing less, than creations molded from Man’s own characteristics, his own virtues and vices, his own qualities reconfigured and remodeled in effort to answer his own hopes, longings, fears, and uncertainties. The gods are, at best, reflections of Man’s own essence, distillations of his own actuality, glorifications of his own potential. At the end of the creative day, however, though he may fervently wish or believe otherwise, no creation of Man can be Man’s master. Though the creator may bow and worship the creation, the creation is not, and could never be, the creator’s superior. The creation can be nothing more than the creator’s servant, a means to his end. If the creator chooses to kneel before his creation, he is free to do so, but he cannot blame the creation for staring back at him in mute wonder.

~ Quent Cordair, on Idolatry

The Idolatry story opens in the twilight of the Roman Empire. As the darkening forces of mysticism descend on Western Civilization, the daughter of itinerant traders is falling fast for a local boy—the apprentice and adopted son of a sculptor. The old master, concerned for the boy’s future, recalls his years as a younger man in bustling Alexandria, where he had found the love of his life before having to flee the threat of religious persecution. Now, having finally rebuilt his life and career in a village far away, an enemy from the past reappears, threatening all he holds dear….

Parts I & II of Idolatry, *Genesis* and *A New Eden*, are now available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook editions on Amazon. Part III is being written.

 

I used to live in Charlottesville

FeaturedI used to live in Charlottesville

I used to live in Charlottesville. Today I’m reminded of this: “All of humanity was reforming into packs, each pack for protection against the others, with the barking and baying growing louder as the collectives circled, sizing each other up. Disassociated individuals were viewed warily, with suspicion, branded as a danger. If you aren’t for us, you must be against us. Choose! In the press and on social media, behind the slanted headlines and sniping innuendo, the snapping and snarling were intensifying, the pretense of civility crumbling as the packs grew and merged, the smaller groups absorbed into the larger. The collectives were circling and coalescing, testing and reaffirming loyalties, choosing leaders, sharpening claws, baring teeth. Self-loathing and fear were turned and projected outward. Homo sapiens was becoming increasingly less sapiens, devolving, seemingly doomed to another round of sub-civilized, tribalistic brutality. How dark would the next darkness be? How long would it last? How red would run the streets? How unexpected the particular details, the extent of the carnage?”

~ from Chapter 15 of A New Eden, Part II of IDOLATRY, from a darker moment of Professor Harris Grant’s thoughts as he sits on the edge of the cliff overlooking Aurum Valley.