Acts of Desolation #1
When the battlefield torn by mines is all the school or playground in which to grow,
how can the children be taught to know, to understand a lexicon of peace?
Bitter hatred permeates mother’s milk and what there is of grain,
permeates the very rain, gathered in barrels since the wells ran red
with poisoned blood, since the holiest of sites became blackened
with pestilence and shame.
Rumors expand on who is to blame; not much else to go around..
I like to walk the dark empty streets. Late at night, the city becomes its own. The smells, the silence, the stark black and white, shadows and streetlamps, without the people the city can become comforting, peaceful. But never for long.
It was a cold night, early in January. It hadn’t snowed much, but there were icy patches where puddles refroze after the hours of the traffic’s warmth. She was huddled in a threadbare shawl, moving at a pace some compromise between care for the ice and keeping blood from coagulating to avoid frostbite. I don’t like to get involved. In the end you can only lose.
Sure enough, a large, somewhat threatening looking, guy appears, yelling after her.
I keep to myself against the reassuring bricks and steel, and watch the drama ensue.
But maybe I’m not as sheltered as I thought, since the next thing I know I am waking with a monumental headache in a far different place. Bright lights, loud noises, sterilized activity, I am propped up against a wall in an overcrowded ER, a place where my disheveled, disoriented presence is sure to cause no alarm.
Then, I see her on a gurney. She is deathly pale, still. I am starting to wonder if this is all a dream, or some superdrug hallucination, but the sensory qualities are all too real, and distasteful. I hate when that happens. Now I’ll have to deal with all this gross stupidity without the benefit of knowing what it’s all about.
A nurse’s aide comes over with a form for me to fill out about insurance and next of kin. I motion, slur, get him to understand that I am concerned about the young woman on the gurney. He probably thinks she’s my sister or girlfriend, and tells me she’s lost a lot of blood, but they will be transfusing as soon as the right blood type comes up from storage. It may be touch and go, but she’s in good hands. He tells me a physician’s assistant will be calling me shortly to examine my contusions and lacerations, and I should tell her what drugs I am on.
I see the guy from the street come in while we are talking. Should I try to hide or get away? Or is he just here because of her? I was just an inconvenient by-passer, after all. I can’t get my legs to work under me anyway. May as well just let it play out.
Sure enough, he sidles over to her, whispering something in her ear as the life drains out of her. Like I say, I don’t like to get involved.
I waited for my body to figure out how to cooperate, and got out of there. Back home, I’m hammering this out on my antique manual typewriter. There’s no electricity here in the hole. Thankfully, there is a working fireplace, and places to scavenge wood.
The city’s got a million stories. I like to squirrel them away in these recordings I keep typing and filing. You can see them unfolding, refolding, just out there, everyday. The hard part is not getting sucked in, becoming the story yourself.