Lamp Unto My Feet

underground

While I understand that the oil drilling that goes on in my neighborhood only slowly sips petroleum from the pores of rocks far below us, it is a popular misconception (and one that I prefer) to suppose that oil extraction in fact leaves behind underground caverns. When I stand in the street in front of my house, only two blocks from the last working oil well in this part of midcity L.A., I can easily imagine the great drained cave that lies directly under the blacktop, and even sometimes hear, if the evening is quiet enough, the conversations of those who live down there. Further, I sometimes fall under the impression that I have been in that cave and know it in detail, having several times in my life stumbled down some rabbit hole or other, and spent days exploring the splendors of a new world, a whole country contained in a geoluminescent cavity, one that I would gladly visit again had not all the rabbit holes, like deep wounds, been stitched shut. Meanwhile, barefooted, I can take up a stance in the middle of the street and feel the tremors that emanate from below, at once filled with perfect visions of past visits there, soles of my feet tinged with seeping light.

Another kind of Alice in Underland cavescape, Laura Barrett’s narrative in cut paper, The Sleeping City, inspires and provides illustration to mine.

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