Monday, July 27, 2020

Meditation 82

27 July 2020

The calm before the storm became the calm beside the storm and the calm that came after it. It turned out we waited for the sake of waiting, organizing our deck chairs, pulling down the umbrella and glass table, exiling plants to the indoors, only to see Douglas pass 25 miles to the northeast. Duration goes both ways, either a cause for dithering or a cause that cannot be let go. Principle is (sometimes) the willingness to keep repeating oneself. They marched over the bridge three times; yesterday John Lewis’s caisson crossed over red rose petals. Ritual's repetition designed to appease grief, let it out the door and down the marble stairs and back down Independence Avenue, or someone’s avenue, past the Botanical Garden and the museums to another river crossed over by another bridge. Someone posts my words about forgetting on instagram; they're words I don't remember writing, emerging like a stunt double from the screen to push me out of it. As if to re-mind were to re-place an old thought with a one that only sounds the same. It is not my mother who cannot remember me, but myself who cannot remember what passed through her mind when she’d been displaced. Not for another child, or relative, but for an empty space where no child had been. Reverse imagination, this erasure, taking colors down from a painting until the canvas remains like a yet-to-be advertised grave site or suburb. Radhika gets her reps in, navigating stunted orange and yellow cones (“Bumblebees 2009,” one reads in her father’s hand) across the field in back. It’s movement, or the Movement, this stitching of feet across a hard surface, dance of voices and billy clubs, the same struggle’s eternal return. If you get old enough, you’ll see the replay. In Portland, protesters turn leaf blowers on tear gas, push canisters away with hockey sticks, hold up garbage can covers as shields. A vet yells at unmarked Feds that he was a medic in Vietnam, where American soldiers killed 175 people in a trench. That was his oath, to defend his country. PTSD is memory’s insistence, pepper sprayed.

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