Coloured chalk covers the concrete. Scattered nubbins, fat sticks, and drawings. The small lot is covered in chalk drawings, except for a thin path that runs from the edge of the lot, winding around the pictures and back to the track leading down to the empty, rocky shoreline. Pink, yellow, purple, red, green, and blue contrast with the drab sky encased in heavy cloud. Rain is coming.

Thick clusters of shrubby grass, plastic packets, and empty beer and soda cans border this one dimensional gallery. A man comes up the track—barefoot, bare-chested, wearing a pair of long, baggy shorts. Deep ravines run through his leathery, sun browned skin. His closely cropped hair is grey.

He takes the narrow path through the drawings and down to a small blank patch where he dumps out the contents of his plastic bag. Yellow chalk piles up, slides, and rolls.  He stares at the chalk then reaches into a deep pocket of his shorts and pulls out a hammer. Squatting, he hammers the chalk until it becomes a mound of bright yellow dust. For a moment, it seems like the sun breaks through and beats down its yellow light upon the mound: a horde of gold dust. He scoops up golden dust and fills in uncoloured spaces in the drawing before him. A glass fills up with lemonade, sails swell yellow in the breeze, the small girl’s hair has yellow ribbons, a yellow beach towel, French vanilla on an ice cream cone.

He surveys the beach scene he’s created. A blonde boy builds a sandcastle with a girl in a sari. A woman wearing a green Gele fanned out on her head brings them ice pops. Everyone looks happy; sun shines and the water is clear.

Smiling, he takes the narrow path over to the far right side of the lot. Thick sticks of blue chalk lie here. He reaches out with blue and deepens the lake before him. Small children splash in the shallows and men cast rods and sit in contented contemplation. Swimmers move smoothly through the sparkling water.  Women unpack baskets filled with lunch spreading the contents onto brightly flowered blankets. Here, like at the beach, intercultural activity is visible. Children with skin of various shades play together. Around the blankets, women and men donning prayer caps, hijabs, yarmulkes, baseball caps, beanie caps, keffiyehs, turbans and fez hats break bread.

The man moves down the path and stops before a baking savannah. Lions, giraffes, zebras and rhinos graze and snooze. A Maasai woman walks with a tourist, their faces bright as they laugh together. The artist tilts his head, picks up red, orange, and yellow, and frames the animals in a glowing sunset.

Farther along the path a little farm is in operation. He studies the scene then gathers up red and brown chalk and draws a reddish brown fox next to the chickens pecking at the ground. The fox is lying down, ignoring the chickens, reading a book. The title is Vegan Cooking. The artist’s eyes sparkle and he laughs. He stands up and laughs loudly against the background sound of crashing waves.  He lingers a moment looking at all his pictures.

Unfolded by his straightened back, tattooed pictures are displayed in their entirety.  An epidermis canvas.  Unlike the concrete lot, his back is fully covered by ink. No skin is free. No path runs through this gallery. The pictures thick with detail are enclosed in smoke, cloud, and fire.

Fighter planes with shark snouts swoop out of a red tinted sky unloading their guts onto a billowing land. Vaporous air curls and shrouds. Grimacing skeletons patrol the barren ground with machine guns. And in the middle, a beret hatted skull presides with a chilling smile, two pistols crossed under his chin.

The artist looks up at the sky and salutes it, exposing a dog tag tattooed across his underarm. “Do your worst,” he says. A drop of rain hits the ground and another. A musty yet fresh scent hits the air. The artist continues standing breathing deeply. Then he goes to each spot where there is chalk and gathers it up into his plastic bag and leaves.

The next morning is hot and bright. Waves pound against the empty, rocky shoreline. The artist comes up the track barefooted, bare chested, carrying a plastic bag full of coloured chalk.

Zetetic separator

—Lisa grew up in the famed city of the angels, and, in time, swapped this sunny, west coast for the rain soaked coast of Mayo in Ireland. She has also lived in London and Berlin and has a Masters in Advanced Language Skills German. She has been published in Pink. Girl. Ink.Scarlet Leaf Review and 805 Lit+ Art Journal.

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