Barnard the Moose in “The Search for a Feeling”

A friend of ours gifted us with two enormous boxes of baby clothes, and basically has single-handedly clothed (and cloth-diapered) our child for the past six months.  Not to mention, I actually really like the clothes she gave us, so our kid looks super cool in his vintage duds.  I wanted to make her something to say thank you, so I found a picture of her son on Facebook and used it in a collage.  It was a small project that turned into something much bigger… and by the time I had finished the collage, it was pretty clear that it *needed* a story to go with it.  So here’s the collage, and the story that accompanies it… the story is directly derived from the image, so you can find all of the characters in the collage.  The whole project has some parallels to the larger painting series I’m working on, An-Noor.  Image

The sun broke through the earth.
Took a bright and hot breath
on the edge of the horizon,
And then got back to work, rising.
Skimming light across the fields of grass,
Casting long shadows,
Creeping up the sides of the houses,
Reaching its glittery arms through glass,
Into bedrooms,
And tickling the nose of one particular little boy
Tucked warmly into his bed.
A very special little boy,
named Aven.

Aven awoke
like a spark!
Straightened his tie
And put on his crown.
A sense of purpose
Setting his feet in motion,
As they made their way out
Into a wide open world
Full of magic.

He strode out into the crisp morning,
Walk-skip-running and walking again.
Leaves and twigs
Crunch-crunching, snap-snapping
Beneath his feet.

Aven played hide-and-seek
With the sun.
He, darting behind tree trunks.
She, slipping behind clouds.

When suddenly, Aven heard a whisper
in the grass,
Yet saw nothing there.
But wait!  Could it be?


Shadowcats are strange.
Sharp and precise dark edges
Shift into layers of imprecise grays,
And disappear.

She purred,
“Well, meow, Aven.
Fancy seeing you here.
What brings you out on this fine day
With such purpose in your eyes?
You see, I too am on a mission
Rustling up some fireflies!”

With that, a glowing orb rose from the tall grass,
And dispersed –
A dozen lighting bugs ablaze!
So illuminating that the shadowcat
Dissolved into the lightness.

They buzzed around Aven so fast,
Zips of light
Tugging on his collar,
His shirt-sleeves,
The hem of his pants.
As if to say,
“Hurry up!  Follow me!”

As he tried to wave away the glittering pests,
He heard the crystalline voice of the shadowcat:

“These sparkling creatures,
I must beseech you,
Treat them with some respect.
They neither bite nor sting,
What a wondrous thing,
In a buzzing and flying insect!

These insects of gold
Are oft foretold
To lead one in the right direction.
So don’t be smug
Put your trust in these bugs,
And you may soon
Make a friendly connection.”

The fiery flies flew
Through the woods.
One settled contentedly
On Aven’s crown,
Taking a much needed break from flying.

The lightning bugs teased
A tiny bronze elephant
Who stomped around in the grass,
Then watched them pass with a curious gaze.

“Chirp chirp, hello!”
A friendly little bluebird greeted them
From its perch atop a prickly bush of roses.

“Your eyes are blue
Just like my feathers!
And I can help you
To find your treasure!
What is it you seek, dear boy?”

Before Aven could answer,
The rosebush began to quiver.
Suddenly, suprisingly…

A moose?

His huge, golden antlers
Gleamed in the sunlight
As he shook off leaves and roses.

“Hi!  I’m Barnard!”
He said in his big, moosey voice.
Barnard flashed a wide grin,
Punctuated by a gold tooth.

“I’ve heard about you,
You must be Aven!
I can tell by your crown and your tie.
You see, me and Blue
Are very good luck,
And you seem like a pretty cool guy.

My antlers, they tell me things
That might be of use to you,
And they’re telling me something right now.
They say that next time the wind blows,
Watch where the leaves go,
And you will see something to make you say ‘wow!’”

Just as the words left Barnard’s mouth,
A breeze pushed its way through the woods,
Lifted high into the trees,
Urging leaves to leave their branches
And discover the joy of being free
To float,
And to fall.

Dozens of spheres
Copper and pink,
Defied gravity as they drifted
Toward a raven in the sky.
The bird flew with abandon,
And you’d never guess,
That this was his first time flying alone.

And it was when Aven
Saw the raven,
That he realized just what all this was about.

Aven had set out this morning
In search of a feeling
And now he knew just where find it.
With a “Thank you, Goodbye!”
He spun on his heel,
And off through the woods he winded.
Back home.

He saw her as he rounded the corner.
With a smile crinkling her eyes,
And her arms outstretched.


And this was what
He had been looking for,
This feeling…

The feeling of a hug.

Of a warm hand on your back
As you slip into sleep.

Of feeling, at once,
So big and so small.

Of falling gently
into the cushiony earth,
With loving arms around you.

The feeling of someone watching,
Keeping you safe,
So you can soar ever upward,
Gaze fixed on the sun.