Thursday, August 8, 2019

Border Walmart

The girl who runs looks before she crosses the road, but never makes eye contact. I run out of ideas the way I run out of my shoes, or Lilith out of her harness when she spots chickens. As I turned the corner to the dumpster, bag of her poop in my hand, a hen propelled herself toward us, orange-flecked wings out, screaming.

The soldier behind Trump in El Paso cried on television for the children he could not save. Trump calls him a hero ("thank you, sir"), says next he'll be a movie star ("thank you, sir").

"They're just words to him," the mayor of Dayton says. "He says them." The teleprompter reads "Texas and Ohio," so he says "Toledo."

A baby's hand was broken; his mother, who pushed him to the floor, was dead; his father, who pushed himself on top of the mother, died later in the hospital where Trump announced the body count from his rally, which was greater than Beto's, he said.

We count the dead not as consolation but in order to do something. Pencil marks on a doorjamb measure a child's progress, and then its end. To count is to mark time, to play the song with seven beats, to empty the mind of its grasping. To count is to make piles of information, like piles of shoes after a massacre. To count is somehow to make sense; but sense is so much more abstract than blood.

We see the Walmart worker from the back; the camera's focus is on the local politician. He breaks down, says he wishes he could have saved his customers. The politician asks if he's seen a counselor, offers him his card. He can connect him to services. Only connect.

Small children stand weeping in a road in Mississippi. While they were at school on the first day, their parents were arrested by ICE. Neighbors and local residents have ushered them into a gymnasium and brought them food they are unable to eat. They are still distraught, the newspaper says.

It's the old healing process. Let's sing about it in a round until we're numb with singing. George Harrison chanted for three days while driving through France, arriving at bliss. When he died, the entire room lit up, his widow says. The song empties us out, but we have to keep singing, or it comes back to us, the gunfire and consumer goods careening from the shelves, the screams and the running feet. He was right next to her, very calm. He threw bottles at the shooter, diverting him for a moment until the shooter trained his weapon on him. It was like a grenade went off in the middle of his back. He would trade his life for that of the girl he saw dead on the Walmart floor. Even the family pedophile would have done as much for his granddaughter

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