In honor of all the posts about looking up, it feels fitting to have a post about looking down. So here we go, an ode to the ground.
When I was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, one of my classes visited an art exhibit where the artist, a photographer, took pictures of the sidewalk at night. What I remember about walking into the space is the way the images were blown up to poster sized stills. They were mounted on the walls and at first glance, it looked like we’d walked into a conservatory, like the walls were covered in snapshots of the sky. It was only when I examined them more closely that I could see smears of bubble gum smashed into the pavement, the cracks in the sidewalks, the places where the cement met the asphalt. Who knew that the ground, when observed from the right angle, might glitter?
There is a place out in Rio Rancho where people go with their used appliances and beat up cars and God knows what else. I imagine truckfuls of boys and the occasional reckless girl. I imagine shotguns and hand pistols and the need to cause damage. They shove vehicles over cliffs, set old washing machines or televisions or chest of drawers out into the field and shoot the things until they are bullet-ridden and–believe it or not–quite beautiful. Once, I took a friend out there, “to see the dead cars,” I said. We found a clearing that I had never seen before, and when we looked at the desert floor, it was covered in red shot gun shells and glass of ever color, each piece shattered to sand.
“When photographed under a 3D microscope, grains of sand appear like colorful pieces of candy and the stamens in a flower become like fantastical spires at an amusement park.”
Which leads me to…
For the past three days, we’ve prompted you to look up. Today, see what happens when you look down. Write a poem. Have a character see the ground in a way he/she hasn’t ever seen the ground before. And for some additional inspiration, try visiting FOUND MAGAZINE, a place where items found on the ground are posted to the Interweb (and sometimes thrown into a really nifty zine)