Sunday, August 30, 2009

Vegetable Hallucination


Okay, breathe. It was all a dream.

I had a mildly disturbing yet exciting hallucination while lying on the couch swooning in the 90°F heat of San Francisco yesterday. It reminded me of the Italian Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo's tripped out creations in which people's faces are formed from an ecosystem of other living creatures and plants (above is his rendition of "Summer"). I thought I was coming home to a blissfully cold, foggy San Francisco summer after getting stranded in the heavy heat of Portland, Maine while Hurricane Bill swept over Nova Scotia and effectively foiled my plans for a pilgrimage to poet Elizabeth Bishop's childhood home in the country of fishermen and maple leaves (yes Hurricane Bill was a greater force than Katrina this time).

Having sprouted and grown tall in San Francisco's mild climate, I have not developed the kind of constitution that can withstand extremities of weather and so began to lose my mind in yesterday's heat after having already begun to unravel in muggy New England. I was also becoming saturated in produce after running around at both the Ferry Plaza and Alemany farmers' markets doing research for an article I'm writing that focuses in part on fall fruits and vegetables.


As I lay with my eyes closed in the haze of my living room, I had a sudden vision that my entire body was composed of different kinds of squash--my fingers were round little summer squashes, striped in dark and light greens, my arms and legs were various longer butternuts and delicatas, my head was a gigantic pumpkin, only it was green and so maybe not a pumpkin at all but a kabocha squash. Whether it was the heat, staring at all those vegetables, or the tiny dreamcatcher earrings I was wearing, the moment felt startlingly real. It was exhilarating to have a completely new physical orientation to the world, but I was terrified that my amalgamated squash body would come tumbling down at the first step I took and break into stringy orange shards. I opened my eyes, and the scene fled. But Arcimboldo remains...

3 comments:

mckenzie elizabeth said...

This artist is amazing. I can't believe I've never heard of him before. And as to your hallucination, I had a similar one while lying on the couch listening to John Zorn's album, The Dreamers. I felt my body decomposing into soil black as coal, and in stop-motion, watched various vegetable plants pry their way through my skin as I sunk into the ground. SO cool.

kale daikon said...

Wow, I need to listen to that album. As for greenery growing out of your soiled soul, read Elizabeth Bishop's poem "The Weed"

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-weed/

mckenzie elizabeth said...

I know this is late-due, but that's a really beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing. I love writing that provokes interesting images in my mind. :)