Without them the highway is vast and lonely. My own terror doesn’t distinguish between death by cancer, burning Constitution, Fallujah, virus in the eye.
* * *
What is the real name of this country? Is it Sandy Loves Tommy? Or Support Our Troops? Is it Christian or White Christian? Is it Fear of Sexuality? Or is it the The Gap? Maybe it’sVictoria’s Secret. I am hopeless and at the same time filled with a momentary ever-rising sense of the possible. Lazy and dutiful. Exhausted and inspired. Lonely and not alone. I am terribly irritated by almost everything I hear and read, each singular seemingly simplistic analysis and declaration, as though human history, and our brief stint at it, could be wrapped up in a glib byline; and at the same time I gasp at the very fact of air and trees and daughters, the energy of the almost majority, the horizon of legacy.
* * *
When my older daughter was three, before I went toPalestine, she took my face in her chubby little hands and said: Don’t die Mommy, don’t die. I heard that voice through every check point, bulldozed home and mother’s story. Now I want to say to the threads of democracy, inadequate as they are, I want to say to reason and compassion: Don’t die, don’t die. I want to say to poetry and resistance: Don’t die.
* * *
I cry on the highway before pretending. I cry with the trucks and fumes on 495 for our inadequacy as a species to care for one another, for our failure to stop the travesty against our own human definition. I cry for every Iraqi mother, everyU.S.mother of a soldier, brutalized child or death row inmate, every Haitian, every woman’s body, the continent ofAfricaand every piece of earth and river. I cry for our language, rich as a cornfield, resilient and acrobatic in the wind, its power shape-shifted into a goody bag with a gun, to be shot off and left hollow by the side of the road. Hollow, hallowed language. I cry for my kids. And the kids who don’t have two parents, homes and fresh food. Knowing I will stop soon. I will put on my boxing gloves as an old friend says. Suck it up as my daughters say. And find the beauty. Again.
(This is an excerpt from a longer piece that was published in
Ruth’s Skirts, IKON, 2007, @ Kathy Engel, reprinted with
permission by the author)
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