the sillhouette

By Michelle Minto

Art by Julie Landrum

the silhouette. part one

in the flicker of the candlelight,

i caught

just a glimpse

of myself

from the corner

of my eye,

i saw the silhouette

of my profile

on the wall

frankly, it seemed beautiful to me


i turned my head to look

directly at it

yanno, to really take it in

but as soon as i did,

it disappeared and

all i saw was

a shadowy shapeless space

the silhouette. part two

i knelt down and peered into the still water left over after a good hard rain in a hole my seven year old dug in the middle of our wide open desert contained only by the mesa to the east and that place where the sky is stitched to the earth in every other direction.

wavy particles of light from the sun bounced off my face and onto the slow-moving molecules of placid water, lazy in the afternoon heat. my eyes beheld this dance of photons and atoms.

and the dance cast an image of me, momentarily surrounded by all of it. a reflection.

i leaned in closer to get a better look. the view took my breath away for a second, so I exhaled and sent ripples through the water. it blurred the image before me. i tossed a rock into the hole, frustrated that I could not see myself.

the silhouette. part three

Who was it who said that consciousness is the universe getting to know itself?

Or was it trying to know itself...

A physicist? Or a poet? Or a preacher?

I don’t remember.

I take my hat off and wipe my sweaty forehead before crouching down to get on his level. The Mesa is forgiving and sends us some wind. I wipe my hand on my pant leg and then

I point


“Do you see that!?” I look over at him, my mouth open wide in a grin, my face level with his.

“Yes, mom.” He smiles, and I see the sun reflected in his eyes.

It nearly blinds me.

I stand up, put on my hat, and press onward. My boots sink into the sand.

Moments later,

his turn.

“Momma, look at that!” He tugs my hand.

I swing my face to see what’s there.

We sing a song together and turn our bodies toward the Mesa. She blazes red in the afternoon glow. Our shadows stretch long before us.

We follow them home.

I feel the sun.

I look at my son.

I inhale deep, and look around at all of it,

Azure blue sky, flat-bottomed castle clouds, walls of red rock, drawings inked there centuries ago, scorching sun, white sand, long grasses, silver spikes, wet spring-green cactus flesh, twisted and gnarled remains carried here by flood waters, fuzzy blue-white seeds on greasewood trees, purple-speckled mesquite pods, sunflower fossils pressed into hard earth clumps, crawling yellow wildflowers, fist-sized quartz, dust kicked up by the wind, cracked empty seed pods climbing yucca stalks, wild cat scat, javelina tracks, trilling birds trolling the wind, cracks in the clay, ocotillo fingers reaching for heaven, fat red prickly pear fruits in piles, long-legged beetles, century stalks holding their yellow flowers in cupped palms upward—-an offering to the sky, little dude’s hair tossed gently by the breeze, our home in the distance.

I sigh contentedly.

I see myself.

Michelle is a writer and educator who lived all over America before finally finding home in Terlingua, Texas. She spent the last decade teaching creative writing, poetry, literature, and journalism courses while advising an award-winning, student-produced literary magazine. She writes everything from nonfiction to poetry and is inspired by the stunning landscapes, talented musicians, legendary characters, and rich cultures of Far West Texas. Michelle loves nothing more than being free to wander, wonder, and bake sourdough bread. Michelle is the journalism and nonfiction editor of Big Bend Literary Magazine.

Julie Landrum is an artist from Lampasas, Texas. Julie is a "process artist" who likes to feel the entire process or art in an organic way during creation. She prefers her art to be spontaneous and diverse. Julie raises sheep, whose wool she uses to weave her own pieces. Julie's talents include photography, spinning and weaving, and painting. Julie likes to mix mediums, exemplified in her pieces above.