The Sky Above; The Mud Below

by Cara Cole

Because we don’t know when we will die we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood? Some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it. Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
––Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

I am interested in the impact of time on both earthbound and celestial bodies. Time devastates flesh and rapidly consumes it. So we humans and beasts have a finite arc of time––a brief interval between birth and death––in contrast to the relative eternity of the cosmos. In performing dissections on dead beasts for this series, in peering intently at their viscera, I am struck by the grace and mystery inherent in the folds of brilliantly hued flesh, and fur and bone. This internal landscape is one of fearsome poetry. It echoes the immense and distant universe. A luminous arc of fur in darkness resembles a solar flare. Folds of flesh glow and stream like remote star fields. I must admit I do not observe this phenomena neutrally. I wish I could do more then simply dissect and expose the interior space, that secret rich place where memory and desire––a life––dwelled. I examine these interiors and wish I could perform my own miracles upon the flesh. I wish I could reverse the tide of time and bring the dead back to life, to make blood rush into the body instead of out, to inflate collapsed lungs with fresh breath, to seal gaping wounds neat and invisible like they were never there at all.