The Liminal Liquid and Other Vignettes

by: Brian Michael Barbeito

A series of affecting vignettes, inspired by the delicate, abstruse, and altogether wondrous realm of nature… 


The Liminal Liquid

Thick mud, and the birds calling out where the tops of the trees meet the overcast sky. The farmer has not been seen in a long while, and there are branches that have fallen and blocked certain pathways. They will have to be cleared, but such work is for the light of day, and in the dryness and clarity where tasks like these can be tackled. For now, there is an amount of chaos. No snakes. Some flies. A bird that has flown overhead. A squirrel rustling amongst the trees in the distance. The Chaga hiding, in a secret place only I know where. Far away it waits on trees, past the fields, past the purlieu that houses the fields. It’s by a stream, a stream practically unknown. That area is like a fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, mystery, story, poem, painting, spirit, devil, angel, witch, shade, dark, branch, dream, quiet, still, fright, sounds in the distance, away, away, away from the path, from the world. If there is a secret passage, an entrance to the astral plane, a hermit undiscovered, a spiritual vortex positive, negative, if there is anything otherworldly, it is in that place for certain, if anywhere. I shall have to go back there. I shall go so quietly. But, for now, the thick mud and the birds calling out and the bits of rain in thousands of pieces that wait and rest on leaves, flowers, branches, blades of grass are there waiting. Water that is here comes from heaven, like manna, but has not yet reached the earth completely. It’s the liminal liquid, below the cloud cover yet above the dirt.


There and There and There

There the soft sky and the white flowers, and there the dried earth below. There the marsh, and somewhere in time the yellow buttercups will hide and bloom in secreted parts of places. There the going of the flies, the moths, the lazy purple butterflies, little and without a care. There the stream at the bottom of the hidden valley floor where a bumble bee hovers and disappears inside a pulled-up root system. There shards of sunlight filter down to meet the dark and dusty air that flakes of earth swirl around in forever. Remember the winters there? Icy, cold, sullen and a bit frightening, and those dark overcast afternoons spent alone? Now, the world there is aglow, practically aflame with ants and hornets and spiders and blossoming mushrooms and flowers and life in general. We forget about the snowy area then, sliding, wiping off ice, taking careful steps in boots affixed with extra catch-footing clips on the bottoms for safety. Now, the winter has gone. Now, there is a place where the sun shower glides itself down for a few moments on branches and leaves. Nothing is crestfallen or craven, callous or casted out. All and everything is sacrosanct, sunny, sublime, and just so.



The small deer was crossing the open patch of asphalt . Mother, watching, having gone just ahead, was cautious. The love of the mother for its offspring, the doe, was incredibly obvious, almost palpable. This love filled the air, and the blood and bones of all around. The poor soul, the young one, seemed so awkward, as if all legs. Finally, the doe crosses to the other side, yet has trouble navigating the dense bushes and soft earth strewn with logs, rock and all manner of feral plants. What’s more, the small one is wondering why I am there, and is looking back at me with a curious innocence. The mother does something with her vocal chords, and it is to tell the young one to hurry. Way out beyond, the traffic rushes by. The world is fast. The mother was once young, just like her offspring, and possibly crossed a place like that. Cycles of time. Kismet, karma, and a certain cadence. The sun has for a moment come out from its hiding place, but won’t stay for long. It is as if it came out to see the deer. Light makes its way down through the branches. A pragmatist, a naysayer, would say the branches are too thick for the light and too thick for the deer. I watch. There is light falling across the young deer’s back and its head. I watch. It stumbles, several times, trying to find the right footing. I watch as it makes its way. Soon the deer disappear into the thicket and sink further into the darkened forest. I, both objectively and willfully, unashamedly sentimentally, and secretly hope and wish to myself that the deer makes it. I hope the doe makes it to motherhood one day, and that I can return to watch such a scene unfold again. For now though, we better buckle down and just make it through the day. One proverbial forest step at a time.



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