Saturday, February 17, 2018

17 February 2018

I want to write an honest sentence about the wall. The white wall is half as high as I am, when I stand. When I sit, it fills my sight, though eyes remain at half-mast, as the teacher instructs. Flags flew at half-staff last night at the baseball game for those dead in a Florida school. We parcel out our enemies, victims, and heroes as if. The wall makes me want to run into the hills, screaming. The teacher tells me to breathe it in; it's not really a wall. But I want to pound it with my fists, knock it into the lap of a woman sitting on the other side. She sniffles. I sit still. The wall is fragile but immovable, like my son or mother. Sits in its whiteness staring back at me. What have I done to deserve such feeling from a wall? A small child pulls out her fists and thrashes at the air; she was I and I am she and somewhere a Beatles' song repeats itself. My friend's piano arrived, as did my poem about a rotting instrument. He figures out the cost as a portion of Adam Wainwright's salary. But the piano is still radioactive, even if it's lost its keys. The memory app they'll slip in our brain will take care of keys, but what of memories that begin again at their origin and don't let us pass? What I remember is often wall. I see only the undifferentiated white, the sitting prompt. My mind intends to go white, dropping impulses like grains of rice, but its blank clots. I could wail at the wall, or I could turn away, but that would break the etiquette of quiet obedient sitting still. Breaking news of a broken system only strengthens it. The deal is a wall in exchange for allowing some to remain on the other side. Our side. Can I place myself inside the wall, as if in a tiny submarine, afloat? The coral bleach, but there's no weight, a near levity to this end of the world in heat and plastic and murder. The boy who killed them was doubly orphaned. Don't explain him away, one woman writes, “he's just a murderer, that's all he is.” And so was the woman who saved so many lives, whose past was a white wall. If you peered around it, you'd see she participated in genocide. We find our balance in body counts. My spine is straight and I'm counting my breaths, you damn wall.

for John Bloomberg-Rissman
--17 February 2018

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