Thursday, December 7, 2023

7 December 2023

I cannot say who I am, or perhaps I refuse to say I am or am not my-self, suspecting that it can’t matter or has little to do with matter. Material isn’t matter, though it might. The shelling of Gaza matters, is matter’s destruction. We live in concrete houses; they destroy our concrete images. Be concrete, my teacher told me. Do not bomb me or otherwise crack my shell. There’s a CV inside, like a treasure chest to long lost gold. Someone put the map inside, so you’ll have to wait until I “pass” to read it. To pass is to die, with a helping of reincarnation, because we pass on. Somewhere. Anywhere airfares are cheap. No bird can compete with the almighty weed whacker. What sounds like laundry is a bread machine, the mechanical knead. To pass is not to be killed. 100 men on a beach. The caption says they were killed, but they are still alive in the photograph, shirtless, cloths wound around their eyes, kneeling. Please let me evade the idea of what came next, if it did, because photographs lie. We’re told that all the time, then use ours as proof something happened. I was there, and so was the shadow of my dog’s ear on her back. She sat near the cat, whose shadow spread like a puddle in from the screen door. Witness is a form of attention that asks more of us than insight. The seeing in, like a peeping tom on death’s stage. Or the cactus that astonishes us by surviving our neglect. Peer around the spines like pages in a book, thrust into the shelf to be blind to hands that reach out to touch its back. “I knew she was Irish!” I said this morning, as I stretched head down, listening for the NGO’s talking head. Dark humor breeding empathy in a dark time. The way she massaged her vowels, rage working its way through lilt and diphthong, what she said about dying in Gaza. These images, they promise, will be disturbing, though they’re placed immediately on the scales of emotional justice. How could they say this but not that, that but not another this. Vista of this. In her latest post, she commands us to be kind to another person. I like kindness, but not ordained. When I asked for a haiku, she said she didn’t like to be told to do anything. The young man whose father was in the military refused to write a sonnet, for the rules. Rules are rules, I gather, whether to march or to make rhyme. The rules for a love poem oblige us to love in a certain way, and at a certain pace. You walk across a field, in taut formation, while I watch from the bleachers. Rehearsal is form exhausted by its meter. Do not ask me to draw a quarter now, when we no longer use change. You must change your life. Look at that beautiful flower, my demented mother said, again and again. Her order made it so, but it wasn’t the flower I attended to.

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