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New Photography

Dialogue: Land, Wheel + Words

      by Kayla Marie Roseclere
                                & Ashley Inguanta

ashley photo 1

The story begins where Missouri turns to Arkansas. The end of June. That’s where the flower started to bloom. That’s where I drove after my plane landed. Wheel and wing brought me closer to the middle of America, a region I had yet to explore. It was my birthday. I left my home in Florida for a few days, hoping the road would propel me as I grew older, and it did. I asked my friend Kayla to come with me.

I said, “I want to photograph you.” I said, “I want to get lost.” And we did. We drove to Arkansas without a plan, headed North to the Missouri/Kansas border with one desire: Mountain, prairie, endless land. “Maybe we’d see some buffalo,” I said, “Maybe we’ll see animals, powerful and roaming.”

Instead we found abandoned homes, a newspaper from nearly a decade ago. An automobile graveyard. Highways 0 and Z. The end of things. We traveled to the end of things, Kayla and I; we neared and even crossed borders. We made art out of what then felt like space, longing to be understood—but now this space feels more like the folding of time—such a clear beginning, such an unfurling close.

I want to somehow grow what we found. Here are our travels in the form of images, words. Here is a dialogue we wrote days after we reached the end, days after we both returned home, safely, tucked into the borders of Missouri and Florida.

Even when I’m home, I feel the need to chase the edge of things.

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We went outside because the hum of the air conditioner was drowning out our thoughts and our skin ached to be kissed raw. We drove past a small, broken down house surrounded by bushes. The town we had found ourselves in housed only 173 people. I had more friends in the virtual world. I came up the concrete steps and into the doorway I could hear wasps buzzing by my head, but I didn't mind. Years of living outside in the country had made me respect, not fear them. I ducked my head to let them by and realized that many of them seemed to be traveling into the floorboards of the house. The living room was sunken in as if the house itself one morning breathed a giant sigh, causing one of its lungs to collapse. Boxes of books littered the rest of the floor that was still intact. The dust made love to their spines and I thought of taking one, but couldn't. Sometimes you just want everything to stand still. The kitchen had hay in it, the bathroom housed a mirror, cracked and worn but still intact on the wall. I watched myself in it curiously as I always do when I find mirrors in empty houses, feeling that they were left there so I could find myself studying what I see staring back at me, comparing the person before me to the girl who stood on a giant bathtub looking at herself in an abandoned mental hospital, looking at herself in another broken down place, once upon a time ago, it seemed to go on and on...

On the floor we found a piece of a newspaper dated 2004. Those numbers seemed a lifetime away, sometimes I forgot I even existed back then, in my mind I was just a big ball of light bouncing around and around, going wherever my strange heart lead me. I wondered what this place looked like back then, who lived here, if they could ever imagine two wanderers stumbling upon the paper they dropped while taking the trash out, or left when they heard the tea pot boiling. Time is a strange animal, gnawing on its limb trapped in the bear trap of fate, only to limp away again, injured but not defeated. Though no longer pristine and intact, the melting floorboards and broken windows now served a new purpose—to draw in traveling souls and house them for brief period of time. The click click click of the shutter bounce off its walls reminds us that the person we see in the mirror before us is always crumbling, growing, evolving like the places we explore.

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Sometimes you just want everything to stand still.

I carry her with me wherever I go. Her, her, and her. The list gets bigger as I grow.
In 2004, I was shedding her. I call this the year of bones. I mourned her, the first her. Like a snake, I shed, and I moved about this world thin as a flower petal, hard as a brick, a body colored with longing, a young woman far, always a woman far.

What happened? People always ask what happened. It's private, what happened, as private as the hidden patterns of wallpaper, exposed in patches, like a map almost.

Or a window.

In the house, I stood near a window, booming with light. Heaven, maybe, her body in the square, beautiful in its story, invisible, but I imagined her there, and a week later she would appear in a dream, in a square of light just like this.

A house, abandoned, sinking. We found it. I wonder how many others have found it, too. 2004. Why only 2004 on the ground? Why that year? Why snakeskin? Why her body in the window in a dream, in real life far?

ashley photo 1a

ashely photo 2

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I think you taught me how to breathe in another life through the head of a lily strung out on opium on the side of a highway where the sun meets the moon’s tide and the tide curves in a way that says hello, what happened? People are always asking what happened.

Place two rocks in your palm and whichever one burns your skin the brightest, throw it back into the lake where it belongs. Each summer is a cactus flower spelling out your name in the dirty dust of the highway until you come by, try to stop it out with your boots and do a rain dance with splinters in your heels.

We have known your name before you were born. You were only a star among us before you shouted into the void and the void collapsed until the earth gave birth to your body bright on a Sunday morning.

You refused to go to church because your clothes weren't dry and when you did go your skirt was too short so everyone called you whore so you let your lovers call you that too.

We’re only as abandoned as the buildings we explore, camera slung on hip, neck high to avoid the sun’s afternoon kiss on your throat. The valleys between your shoulder blades have had more visitors than Highway 0 or Z have ever had. The broken down cars on the side still have angels stuck inside saying stop, don’t become like us, wear your seat belt and say grace before every meal--but we don’t hear them over the sound of our click, click our radio silence singing loud, drowning out the static of a century forgotten.

So we drive on and I pick flowers on the side of the road not knowing they are the bodies of my brothers and sisters, the ones who went to church.

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An angel at the wheel. I imagine her driving, hair loose, radio loud.

She goes. I can’t catch her.

Her shoulder blades are the power of a rain dance.

Tell me, are the mountains of Arkansas—are they what you seek?

Tell me, did you wish we could have crossed the Kansas border?

Or was the kiss enough? The way we kissed the edge, the way our car danced along the highway?

I touch something greater than the myth of her. I touch the space between shoulders, the real thing. I touch the real thing this time.

I am going to tell you right now: The rain has come. The buffalo are roaming to a place we have yet to find.

ashley photo 9

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kayla photo 1

Link to: Secret Language

Kayla Roseclere is a girl living in the Midwest who yearns for deserts she’s never touched. She writes flash fiction and abstract stream of consciousness poetry that seeks to bring the reader on an emotional ride with her. Her work has appeared in publications like Molotov Cocktail and Gone Lawn, and she was a winner of SmokeLong Quarterly's candy cigarette competition last year. She also writes at The Secret Language of Crickets. You can trust her, she’s not like the others.

Ashley Inguanta is a writer/photographer who recently moved to Brooklyn from Central Florida. She is a new addition to Brooklyn's RAW artist group, and she's served as the Art Director of SmokeLong Quarterly for the past two years. Her first collection, The Way Home, is out in print with Dancing Girl Press and is available on Kindle with The Writing Disorder. Her favorite thing to do is stand in the rain. Stand with her and she'll love you forever. Ashley's new collection of poetry, For the Woman Alone, is coming out from ampersand books in 2014.

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