Sunday, February 5, 2012

Jour de Pluie dans la Vallée de la Loire

Watercolor on Paper, 1998

Leonardo's Flying Machine

"The great bird will take flight above the ridge...filling the universe with awe, filling all writings with its fame..."
- Leonardo on manned flight

On Leonardo's rooftop I can see his flying machine ready to take off. But, how do I get up there? I close my eyes and suddenly I'm there! I climb in and swing my feet back and forth beneath the sprawl of enormous bat wings. My hands grasp the steering mechanism and I wonder where to go. I'd like to go far, very far into the stars. How do I measure the wind pressure or navigate my direction? Does it matter? I'll just let the wind carry me and keep my eyes open to avoid bumping into clouds or a migrating flock of birds. A strong wind comes up and in a sudden SWOOSH! I'm airborne and flying high above tree tops over farmlands and miniature houses. I feel free but its not as glamorous as it seems. I have my work cut out for me!  Warships float past and the nine-hundred forms of perfection Leonardo drew for Ludovico's horse. They gallop and curl kicking up hooves in a thousand different directions. I dodge and weave trying to maneuver the giant bat wings spreading out above me. After awhile the flight levels out and I reach out touching the pink clouds. I prefer Leonardo's flying machine to the Battle of Anghiari, forever peeling in some museum or the unfinished Last Supper suspended high above whispers of controversy in Santa Maria delle Grazie. I like to take wing, to levitate the spirit, to meet the mystics!