I have no reason to venture to Tahiti for Gaugin took me there years ago, and again on a visit to Chicago and one to New York, or was it Cleveland, it hardly matters, for I know that the Tahiti of my experience no longer exists, touristed to death, itself at constant risk of drowning.
I did have reason to go to Arles, and there searched far and wide for the sky that Vincent promised, or the flowers, but the few stars visible through the lights and pollution of the city were pale imitations of the brilliant lights I know were there aj century ago.
Now I sit in my yard and watch the comings and goings of a thousand birds who deserve to be painted and not captured merely in pixels, for memory, human and electronic, fades with time, while art if not artists can be immortal.
She could barely move her head the cancer climbed her spine reaching upward, clutching vertebrae reaching out, tendrils grasping tearing fragile organs. She would cry, but that would be an admission of defeat, a welcome to death.
I cried out for her, entreated our God for compassion that she might stand by her sons when they uttered the ancient words, by her daughter, adjusting the white lace veil, but he would not answer, drawn into catatonia, seeing severed limbs of children littering the streets of Sarajevo.
She clings tenuously to life as I cling tenuously to faith.
First appeared in Community of Poets Magazine Vol. 21,, 1999 and later in Legal Studies Forum 30:1-2, 2006
It is all to often debated what sets humans apart the other species, and that will not be agreed any time soon (which a cynic would note is one such thing itself).
Freud would claim it is only our ego, our sense of self, which may explain why people are so capable of being self- ish, and I suspect he was certain he was wholly correct but I would give him only partial credit.
It is far simpler than that: record your voice, record a Sandhill crane and play them back and I assure you that you will say you sound nothing like what the recorder heard while the crane will nervously look all around for his unseen kin.
It is an admittedly odd sign of my age that I recall clearly when bathrooms were tiled mostly in monochrome, black and white, and it was a mark of quality when each tile was hexagonal, a hive of ceramic cells, impenetrable.
Now tiles are square or rectangular, come in a rainbow of colors, often intermixed to achieve looks unimaginable back in my youth, and walls a painted with any color you can imagine, not the eighteen shades of white from which my parents had the choice for our new house.
But change can be for the better, and in proof of that you need only look around and see that bathroom fixtures are mostly white, occasionally black, not sickly green or peach, and, thank the gods, no one has avocado appliance these days.
When it’s time, i suppose I’d like to go like my dog and cat, slipping away as they were gently stroked. It could be like that, there’s a chance but I can’t count on it, no one can. I never did try skydiving, too late, now and so a failed or fouled chute won’t be my fate and the closest I came to auto racing was a weekend at Bondurant and my skill limited my career to local road rallying in college, and few die in under-powered Opels. Maybe I’ll know my end is near, and maybe not but it won’t be in a blaze of glory and my ashes will sit on some mantle because only those of the famous, like Richie Havens, get spread from the plane over Woodstock. But, then again, none of that will be my problem, so screw it.
I have never visited the grave of my mother, either of them, which seems most odd primarily to me. The mother I never knew until it was too late to know her is buried in Charleston, West Virginia a place i intend to visit, grave site included in the coming months, to see where my mitochondrial DNA was planted and grew into the odd shape that greets me in the morning mirror. The mother i knew so well, who could always find ways to frustrate me when I was certain she exhausted every possibility is buried next to my sister, placed there by my brother who couldn’t quite get the funeral together, at least not the one she would have appreciated, with the near famous all pump, never the right circumstances so into the ground she went. I will visit there too, someday perhaps, but helical gravity will always pull me to the Mountain State.