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"The Wrecking Ground, pt. 13" by Lee Huttner

"The Wrecking Ground" is an essay told in parts by Lee Huttner. We will be publishing a new part each week on our blog. Stay tuned!


As I fall, descend, drop like a sounding plumb, the colors proceed in this order: green, blue, yellow, red.

These names are insufficient. There are hues and tints of color, subtle gradations. All we have to describe these are metaphors to which we affix our desire for precision. So, we extract and abstract from the objects around us:

grass-green / apple-green / olive-green / emerald-green / sage-green / jade-green

sapphire / forget-me-not / turquoise / gentian / ultramarine / sky-blue

topaz / gold / orange / citron

rose and cherry

ruby and almandine

blood and flame

The colors I see have nothing to do with the absorption spectrum of water. In fact, the deeper one descends into a body of water, the less the wider wavelengths like red are absorbed. Blue lingers longest. But these are the colors you see as you descend in your memory, and there’s the more vital sharper truth, there’s the bone.

The green, I think, must be the life that clings to the surface and the edges of the water, the moss and leaves and scum swirling in the whirls of currents close to where there’s still air, where there’s still time. Then, the weight of the body pulls, and the true blue of water is all around, crystalline, and for a moment the body seems caught, trapped in a shimmering amethystine resin.

Until the lungs begin to ache. The first conscious pangs telling you that you are not your body, because your body is relaying a message to you that you must breathe, please, dumb body that does not understand death in the way the mind does. The ache reaches to the fingertips, the eyeballs, begins to distort sight and sound. A ringing like cut crystal rubbed with a wet finger. Light like honey, amber light, pulsing heavenly gilded light. Until the rich red curtain begins to fall; fire courses through veins and arteries; a crimson veil of pain.

And then?

So much driftwood, so much debris.

How much of the sand beneath your feet was bone once?

And whose?

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