As I wade through masses of stuff I’ve written over the years, I come across detritus that tells more about my moods and mental state at the time I wrote it than anything else. But that may be what writing is, ultimately. It says more about the author’s state of mind than his or her creativity. Because finding this stuff was such an endeavor, I have decided to “store” it here for future use or consideration or disposal.
And now, my wife and I can go explore places we’ve not seen up close.
Unfinished semi-poetic rhyme-fest
An Argentinian woman was speaking in Yiddish,
she seemed to be cursing, berating the British.
I could not understand a word that she said,
but if looks could kill I’d already be dead.
In an instant, a lifetime of befuddlement disappears to reveal a pure and horrible clarity. Mortality is there, standing straight and tall and horribly close. A wave of terror and relief sweeps through me like a tsunami, washing away the fear and sweetness buried just below the surface of years and years of sand and rock and wet meadows. This is painful news, the stuff of history, as temporary as time is long.
Parched, cracked earth.
Empty skies and endless horizons.
Cold, savage winds that carry with them sharp, brittle shards of sand that
bite into skin like claws.
Relics of stunted trees, long-ago crippled by too-much wind and too-little water.
Rusted, broken barbed-wire fences, the decaying work of people with a lot of spirit and not enough money.
Screeching hawks and searching buzzards.
Everything is raw, pointed, sharp here.
Shelter is rare.
I learned late in my middle years that ambiguity is the single guiding principle upon which life on earth is based. We knew so much, yet we knew so very, very little. The more information we gathered and the greater the density of those details became, the more we depended on fact and the less we depended on intuition and faith. Emotions began to wear away and the bonds of family began to break. Religion, as we knew it, dissolved as we watched. I was not—am not, and cannot be—a proponent of organized religion. But the central principles of many of the more common religions dictated civility; and when that was lost, so were we all. We used to speak of the fall of the Roman empire, never thinking that such a cataclysmic event might ever befall us. But, I gather it did, and it was far more cataclysmic than anyone ever dared believe it could be.
The fears of nuclear oblivion never came to pass, though after the collapse of North American society there were sporadic, but isolated, detonations in several areas around the globe. Only after nuclear annihilation became impossible due to the loss of technological know-how was any serious thought given to societal suicide; by then, though, as badly as societies wanted to expunge themselves from the earth, the capability to do so had been lost.
The horrors were widespread, whether a result of the all-too-rare nuclear blasts or the horrible social explosions that erupted around the globe. I was, depending on one’s perspective, either fortunate or horribly unlucky; I was able to leave the worst of the nightmare in the very early stages by travelling first to an unexpectedly remote spot in central Texas and then, ultimately, to the far reaches of northern Canada where I lived for many years. I hope, when you read this, you will know what those places are, or were. We still use the words, even though their definitions as political boundaries have long since passed.
My agonies are etched into the sheer foil of my mind. I won’t reveal them here; now isn’t the time. You will learn of them as you need to learn of them.