|[SB Jane’s book Spirit Traffic will be published next spring by SB Bill, both of the Hinesburg SBs. Each Sunday she publishes a love letter that she will be glad to send you for free. Sign up on her website. Here’s a sample. Note: some graceful design and formatting touches were unfortunately lost in translation. SB SM|
I’m not a very visual person, but I was recently moved by a short art film from the Screening Room at the New Yorker. The piece is called The Spiritual Presence of Lost Children. It is a beautiful 14-minute piece about China’s strict population control measures. The film is like an animated watercolor koi pond full of fish. It is exquisite.
The film tells the story is of a girl raised by her grandmother. She longs for her parents. The grandmother is not actually her grandmother, but a woman who found the girl as a baby floating in the water near the village. The baby, thought to have been drowned by her parents who already had a child, has vitiligo on her hands and face which gives her the appearance of the koi fish she loves. The fish are drawn to her; she can stroke their colorful bodies as she wades in the shallows. The fish playfully swim in and out of her wriggling fingers.
The lonely koi-fish girl has recurring visions of a glowing baby toddling around the edges of the water. She imagines that this glowing baby is her long-lost big brother, whose red hat she finds in a chest under her grandmother’s bed. The brother who died after one year of life, had been swaddled in blankets, and set adrift in the water. He was not buried because dead babies are thought to bring bad spirits. The koi-fish girl often wears his too-small hat tied under her chin.
Because of her vitiligo and her unusual origin story, the village kids call her ‘Monster’ and bully her mercilessly, even after she rescues their beloved kite from a tree. The bullying catches the attention of another lonely little girl in the village. This little girl wants to be a fisherman but is not allowed to because of her gender. Her fisherman father, who will not take her along on his daily fishing expeditions, forbids her to even set foot in the boat.
One day when the koi-fish girl is punched by the nastier of the village kids, the fisher-girl takes her by the hand; together they run away on her father’s flat-bottomed wooden skiff. With one girl at each oar, they row out to sea. The weather turns rough, waves mount, it starts to rain.
Unalarmed by the weather, the koi-fish girl’s attention is instead taken by something glowing in the water. She gazes into the deep just as a gust of wind blows her brother’s red hat off her head. It starts to sink. As she reaches for it, her oar slips out of her grasp and floats away. Unfazed, she watches it drift off and is surprised to see in the turbulent water, the glowing baby wearing her brother’s red hat and swimming near the oar just out of her reach.
The fisher-girl also sees the glowing baby in the water. As they watch the baby dive, other glowing babies surface. Soon the little boat is surrounded by glowing babies swimming playfully in the rough sea. Before sinking back into the deep, the pod of glowing babies pushes the boat safely to shore where the koi-fish girl and the fisher-girl are embraced by their anxious families who had been frantically searching the village for them.
You can see The Spiritual Presence of Lost Children here. Photo by MusicFox Fx on Unsplash
Here is a sneak peek of my back cover. Designed by Mason Singer at Laughing Bear Associates.
|Listen to a sample of my audiobook here.|
Soon, you’ll be able to pre-order the audio and print versions of Spirit Traffic. Stay tuned!
|Thank you for your continued enthusiasm and support. I look forward to hearing from you. |