October 15, 2017

Opening Up

By Adele Ardent
Four Corners, NM
September 22, 2017

There is a moment that often follows a sudden opening-up of space.

Sometimes, you meet this moment bleary-eyed, stumbling from a late bed to pull aside the curtains and reveal a morning already half-lost to the high-climbing light; sometimes, it finds you when the incoherent pools illuminating unfamiliar city streets resolve into a coherent narrative threaded in orange and gold light. In that moment, eyes and mind look past confining spaces to focus on further, and yet further, distances.

The lands here in the Southwest seem to live in that moment of readjustment ceaselessly, with the earth both perpetually torn open to the sky and yet always frozen in the moment of tearing wider still. It is easy, standing here sky-washed, to imagine each breath borne high and away by untouchable rivers of cloud and star.

It is easy, under these skies, to believe the lie that there is an “away” at all.

I find myself wanting to believe this lie; I find myself wanting to believe that everything will be fine.

In taking pictures of the human disruptions caused by fracking, I’ve found myself focusing upwards instead. Using the panorama algorithm on my phone, I’ve tried to stitch together as many bolts of blue sky and filmy cloud as I can gather by reaching arms overhead and bending back (and back and back further still.)

I want these human disturbances to be as minuscule as they look to be when compared to the immensity of the air. Little truths told by other senses out this lie, of course—a tightness in the chest when Daniel Tso led us on the tour of fracking sites, the sudden pain when blood drips from the nose in the bright-ringing dawn of a bell-clear day, dreams filled with generator vibrations, traveling along eardrum and jaw into gritted teeth.

I want to return to these places to put more pieces of sky together, and reconcile conflicting aims: I want to see the sky as a giant quilt of breath that I can rest comfortably under, big enough to forgive any stain. I want to piece together a way to reveal the lie.

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