Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Two Sides of the Coin of the Realm

This is the season for goldfinches in the mornings; they always travel in groups, often three. I would love a feather if it didn’t mean pain for the bird. I found a red feather just before beginning a trip recently. I’ll believe it was from a cardinal. I’m seeing a lot of them lately.

And close encounters with a few woodpeckers. Once, running, and I slowed a bit to watch one on a tree not two feet away, just at eye level, his head back and coolly determining where to nail. Each time I’ve seen them, I’m surprised at how big they are. I would call these sightings auspicious.

On that note, I’ve been feeling a lot of compassion for men lately, probably because of encountering quite a few of them, typically in their 40s, tearing themselves up about not being enough of this or having accomplished that. They are running themselves down for everything from not being astronauts to not having Situationist abs. Or, I guess, Situationesque would be a better word. In short, they’re talking like girls, and I don’t mean that in a mean-gym-coach way, but in a “damn, friend, how could you let Them bring you down like that” way.

And these are extraordinary men talking this talk. Great artists, great fathers, yes, great lovers, too, men who make you laugh, men with enough courage to actually show others something of their inner lives, men who can survive in the woods with a lighter and a piece of rope, men you could talk with all night. And there they are, letting themselves be declared worthless by Wall Street. I can only quote: “That place is dead anyhow.”

Despite being filled with compassion and delight, my brain and heart remain not the most pleasant places to be at all times. Witness what happened yesterday, as I was heading to the Westfield Shoppingtowne or whatever the fuck they’re calling it now, it used to be Wheaton Plaza, for a new pair of glasses, and there I was at the five-corner crossroads, a busy intersection far back into history even for animal migration, so it is alive with energy, most of it scary, today, and the radio was talking about BP, and I had a vision that made even me uncomfortable in its icy cruelty:

I see my huge hand as the hand of Eris, plucking fat white grubs from the office suites of Halliburton, of Blackwater, of Massey Energy, of BP and all the rest, harvesting them and shaking their slimy selves off my hands to fall on the decks of my boats in the Gulf. They will be my cleanup slaves. There they’ll sleep, when they seldom sleep, in the holds head to foot. They’ll drink the brown water that comes from taps in Appalachia, slurp quivering gobs of transfat and corn syrup from rusty ladles, when I let them feed. They will scrub and swab the seas themselves, and I will pay no mind when dizzy from thirst they fall face flat on the decks, when crazed with sun they leap into the Gulf and drown themselves; I won’t care what tumors grow in what soft places or how they hack and puke on the poison that sinks into their lungs and skin. They didn’t care when they did it to my mother. I am implacable as the sun. They opened this wound at their peril. For once, the cleanup won’t be done by the ones who need the money. It will be done by the ones who need killing.

And the ship….the black raider…disappears out to sea…

I know, it’s wrong, it’s scary, it accomplishes nothing, it only devalues me, myself, it’s unladylike, and it’s damned dangerous to evoke Eris. But once in a while I have to let that inner Johnny Cash fury out.

So I give myself an order to remember: they are someone’s child, they are someone’s lover, there is no end of blame, and you share the blame, rinse and repeat, as long as the water holds out.

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