Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Security Footage


Not a frog in the throat, exactly. A square, wedged sideways. Not sharp, but taking space between breath and voice. I carry the square with me; it reminds me to swallow, confirm it's there. The square demands attention, says that to take anything in is awkward. It's the sound of the rioters, not their silly hats and baseball bats, that disturbs me. Blue lives props for rhetoric that dissolves at the broken window, the pounded in door. To matter is so suddenly immaterial, replaced by "fuck" and the pointed end of a flag pushed in a man's face. If you whisper your manifesto, it will lack force, so scream it out. Uncertainty is a principle, but we're past that, lodged in the certainty of its lack. 

During a break, I walk to visit the goats down the next road over. They're curious enough only to scoot away, until a black and white goat walks to the fence and sticks his head through a wire square, nose in the air to smell me. As I leave, he props his two front legs on the fence, turns his head in profile. I tell the others, the scurriers away, that I'm not there to harm.

Security footage means we're now seeing what no one saw at the time. The angle is not human, is propped up near a ceiling, eye that flashes between Senator and policeman, between chamber and corridor. It's not blinking, exactly, but oscillating between two fixed points. The senator leaves his lens, and Goodman--so aptly named--runs past the one that is ours now. The glass eye doesn't see, but makes record of being seen. Lacking a crime, there's nothing to look at. 

The canvas draws us in, as if the artist inhabited it, not the room in which he'd painted it over. The colors tells us nothing, but ask us to feel. I went to Houston to see Rothko's Chapel, but got delayed. I have the idea of the place, populated by his squares, painted on rectangles, eyes that take in. Do they see us as ranges of temperature living in bodies, come to visit them and then leave again? When we walk away do they feel our loss as a downward draft of air, then light unattached to color?

One rioter claimed he went to the capitol to see the paintings; others wandered among the statues like children separated from their parents. The umbilical was a tweet; you can hear one man recite through a bull-horn a condemnation of Mike Pence. The prosecution cannot prove that the gallows outside was for the man they called on to be hanged. Coincidence is pure extravagance. If the man recognizes the code, we still cannot prove its author intended to write in code. Words are accidents. And I thee wed.

The cure is experiment, material divorced from content. Write in language lab English about your experience at the capitol on January 6. Be sure to say something about the weather and ask where the train station is. Union Station. Stay peaceful, the president intones; a video shows blood on the sidewalk, a woman falling back, dead, a cop trapped in a door. His moaning is no accident. They count the suicides among the dead.

When the young reporter said they'd get to the bottom of problems at the Counseling Center, I laughed. An open secret is hardest to combat. The managers say it was easy to predict violence. But the security cam shows panic, except in the eyes of one Republican senator.

The fire I tried to light died, repeatedly. I put my hand in to push a piece of wood, and it came back wet between first finger and thumb. She tells us to start by reaching out to touch the earth. My father referred to the ground as earth. A veteran says the attack was as frightening as being in Iraq. The Capitol grounds have grown a fence. Someone will pay to be kept out.

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