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Textured Tessellations

by Rekha Valliappan

‘Patterns must be mapped.’ –Fritjof Capra

Sitting on the green luna’s papery wings I can feel the crimp, the itch, what it would be like to creep into that brilliant summer garden, flying with my ghost-dreams, vacillating between moth-buzzed calla-lilies-crimson-crusted-blooms, hear the song of the ladybirds and the bugs buried in dense foliage. My longitudinal journey would start as the moggi’s life begins. In zigzag patterns of tessellated flight. Forgotten and alone. I’d like to awake with the ghostly green, but I’m not asleep. 

And then I’d like to steer the sun that streaks in straight lines out of infinity. The same old textured sun that honeycombs in patterns compact and wayward. The sun that bleeds its loneliness to the spiral infinite, that blends the geese to the tall grass, the willow trees to the gravel underfoot, the moon to the mystic structures, the oceans to the silica seas. The sun that licks shadows for the moon moths to find their way to the hickory tree. The sun that makes the gentle breezes touch glossy green bowers. That yolky-sun that glides over waters etched in glass. The sun that plummets each night the one side down to leap each day the wrong side up. I’d like to fly unwavering with the moggis into that burnt sun each day. Only they are no more, dart, dart, dart, bulls-eye, gone the way of the lime hawks and scarlet tigers, yucca moths and white ermines.

It is one such sun-steered day when I saw the ghost-tinged luna break like a fever, drifting weightless and empty in slow movement, like a dancer who has forgotten to twirl. Its color was a strange limpid green. The moggi had been lying in wait in fragile scabs carved out of leaf fiber, marking time. Each one shook loose, to leap the light. The winged critter that crawled out was wet, hesitant, but cured, free of the tight closed encasement that had cocooned her.

Flicker and burst–the ghost in green stunt gliding was in planar lift, wings extended to the max, eerie eyespots otherworldly fixed, dexterously deflecting the flame. Two staring cataract moons stocked with owl eyes splayed on her tissue thin transparent wings. They were her only camouflage. 

Moggi tested her new-found arbor. Never been better, although butterkins and dragonloons were long fled. Down-drafting into the geraniums she distended her venomous spikes on her outgrown skin, her defensive weapon. Later the spikes would be no more. They would molt in the leaf litter which had expanded her into a dazzling creature of long-tailed elegance. She would visit every hawksbit, coltsfoot and toadflax, smell the black-and-yellow-polka-dotted bonnetbees. 

She had arrived in darkness, she must vanish into the light, her peak of eclosion a winking tessellation of five instars which is how her unusual life had unraveled from pupation in seedpod shelters. Her precision aesthete of stretch and glide was how her fluidity would mobilize. It didn’t show. She couldn’t see. For she had no real eyes. Just the ones on show. She could not eat or drink either, for she had no mouth. 

She could only mate, a pheromone dance of advanced attraction. And she would die as suddenly and swiftly and surely as she was born. Die upon the outer limits of earthly existence. Die when the purpose of life was complete, when the edge of effortless elegance was exhausted and effete. Her face was her body of perennial wormwood, the span of her gossamer wings her spring-like movement. Her dance was her movement over marshes and water oaks and Joshua trees to birthing–moggi-eggs laid in a tangle of leaves, fighting off drugged sleep, falling to her death in mimicked night lights, people and house porches, and fakery, her worst enemy. 

The song of the luna tessellated then, for the song was not a song at all. The goldfinch sang. And the cuckoo. And the loggerhead shrike in shrill-trill-shriek. At what point would the beauty of darkness reflect in fireflies? Reflect in moggis patterning the gloom? I stirred in sleep. It felt eerie. Do not leave me un-awakened in a sleeping field.

“Is the night light on?”

“Which one, Mag?”

The fake one . . . on the porch? “

“Oh for heaven’s sake, Mag, moggis are just flying residue, we get them each summer, when the rains are scarce and the sun steers. Gunk invade us by the gazillion.”

“But the climate, it’s taking a toll, their life . . . ?”

“What life Mag, midges have a better life than we, believe me, they reduce ours by half whenever they appear, unless they are shock-sponged . . . I’ll get to it right away.”

“Get to what??”

“Industrial strength this time. No fakery with detergents.”

“Look–look!” Magdaa clutches her throat in a small strangled cry, like a child discovering a bird with a broken wing. The quilt she has been embroidering in tessellated pattern of cinnabar, campion and celandine slips from her nerveless fingers and flutters to the ground. A hush falls. A ghostly green rolls like a heavy-hanging cloud which has wandered too low to the ground and is seeking to scatter. And the Lepidopteratops is no longer in concealment. 

Slipping and dodging the moggi crests the rooftops, her strength the magnetism of the moon slicing pot-holed skies. I watch her sky-dance which has begun. I have waited in flightless dream for this–a four-winged re-generation from a thick brown fluid to a wafer-thin shadow frantic-flying high. The tendrils of loneliness that have snaked through my dreams dissipate on it’s own accord. The higher her flight the greater the wrench to the fractal foliage. To catch the light! 

Magdaa falls to the floor in a dead slump. 



Alternate.  Fly!

Geometric patters strung on a quilt in a billion zigzag tessellations.

Tessellations do have textured symmetries.

Rekha Valliappan writes short fiction and poetry. A former college lecturer she earned her MA in English Literature from Madras University and her LLB (Hons) from the University of London. Having won awards and nominations for her writing her work features in GHLL, Ann Arbor Review, Aaduna and Artifact Nouveau.



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