This morning, I am certain the earth pulled me down more strongly, as though gravity needed to reassert itself, having lost someone in its grip to the virus, a common complaint as we stumble through still another year.
I fought it off course, the birds in the wetland at once admiring my effort and laughing at what they knew would ultimately be a futile gesture.
You belong to the earth, they said, you arose from it, are bound to it and it is a matter of time before it reclaims you as it does with all.
It was easier, they added, in ancient days, when the gods truly cared, for then you need only sufficiently irritate them before they would sever your earthy bonds to serve eternity in a celestial prison.
This is what I would tell my sons: “You came from an ancient people, a heritage of poets and tailors, or thieves and blasphemers, of callous men and slaughtered children. I would give you these books, written by God, some have said, although I am doubtful but driven by Erato, without doubt.”
This is what I would tell my sons: “I didn’t go to war — there were so many options and I chose one where my feet would touch only Texas mud, where the only bullets were quickly fired on the rifle range. I wasn’t one of the 56,000. I didn’t come home in a body bag. But I do stop at the Wall each time I visit D.C. and say farewell to those who did.”
This is what I would tell my sons: “You have never known the hunger for a scrap of bread pulled from a dumpster, you have never spent a night on a steam grate hiding under yesterday’s newspapers from the rapidly falling snow. You never stood nervously at the waiting room of a dingy clinic waiting for a young, uncaring doctor to announce that antibiotics would likely clear up the infection but you should avoid any form of sex for a couple of weeks.”
This is what I would tell my sons: “You come from a heritage of poets.”
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press 2008
It washed up on the beach this morning, stopped right at my feet, as I stared down at it, examining it carefully. It message was clear at first, a tale too hard to swallow, of creatures tossed about by a storm that no one saw, from an age in which no one now alive could have experienced. The message described a magic land of which it gave only had a brief glimpse, a land that was constantly in flux and perpetually out of reach. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine such a marvelous place, and as I did it receded back into the ocean from which it emerged, merged with all of the others, and I was left with only this dream of it.