Whatever you need to do, do it now. The conditions will always be impossible.
Look where your feet are planted, and bloom where you are.
Unknown yet variations by many
I’m haunted that it happened here. Thought this was a safe community. Yet Tammy took that woman’s diamonds, clothes, and almost took her life. She starved that poor woman under the guise of helping a shut-in. Tami helped herself instead.
Never met the woman even though she lived across the street. Didn’t even know she was there for the longest time. Nice home but I thought it was deserted—blinds drawn, never saw anyone go in or out. That is till after I heard Tammy tell a neighbor, “…poor thing…broke her hip…no, no children…needs help.” After that I saw Tammy walking a runt of a dog that trembled and skittered as she drug it down the street till it did its business then half-choked itself lunging against the leash toward home. I’d see Tammy go in around dusk and leave not much after with bags in each hand and always two more tucked under her arms.
I’m embarrassed I didn’t think about it till the deputy asked if I’d seen anything unusual. This was right after the woman’s son came. Apparently she did have a child and he fired Tammy and packed what he could in this tiny trailer hitched to his cigar box of a car. The deputy asked what I’d seen—wanted to know how often Tammy was there, if I’d noticed her wearing fancy jewelry, or how much weight my neighbor had lost the past few months. But all I’d seen was brown bags and that scaredy-dog and how skeletal that woman looked in her boy’s arms when he carried her to his car.
Thank you to the editor of Doorknobs & Body Paint for first publishing this piece.
I learned to make my mind large, as the universe is large, so that there is room for paradoxes. Maxine Hong Kingston
COMMUNION Dividing an elementary class into boys on one side girls on the other invites each to imagine the other group has cooties! cooties! cooties! and leaves each vulnerable to those who thrive on power yet united, we eliminate disease, produce thriving meccas of cultural exchange, launch ourselves through the universe…. If you think you’re invulnerable to ads and rhetoric, think about a lemon— thrust your teeth through thick yellow skin to release zest’s zinging scent and swallow tart puckering juice. That saliva now beading your gums is stimulated from the reptilian brain targeted by an arsenal of ads and six-second sound bites that riddle information till deception sounds like truth, our sanctity plundered by those who weave their children in the woof of power while snipping out poor to be fodder for war. Girls-boys, red-blue, hick-elite, white-colored, gay-straight… I can keep going since division perpetuates itself and blinds us to our need to be touched and to touch for we are not spiders, autonomous from birth, but must be suckled once the thin film of mucus is wiped from our mouths; if we didn’t thrive on touch our exterior would be hardened shell rather than this overlay of neural sensors telling us when to swat, run, rest, embrace the Pleiades in every cell, the bell, the smile, the knife— yet the nourished thrive amid those with hunger that sinks skin between bones as the body digests its own flesh to survive— this inequity perpetuated through our mad divisions— yet madness is tricky. We think of it as moon howling running naked through streets invisible companions but true madness skulks where plans are laid to destroy this planet many times over as if this could be done more than once as if this is the best use of our lives madness in the reverent joy of orchestrating Armageddon as if some are connected and others not madness in numbing ourselves to suffering in ways that cause more suffering but before squaring off into us and them remember glass houses and heal thyself for unraveling the madness of this world begins with me. It begins with you. Yet how do we wrap around the odd ones, the violent ones, the ones who’d sooner slit a throat than say hello? I know only that we start with kindness and cherishing the children we create for they are our future, inheritors, providers, while we are holy catalysts for communion. If we choose to eliminate hunger, rein in our mad greed for power, cherish this blue planet’s miraculous life, what force could shatter our bond for each life is no more than kidney, cell, atom, of the same body coalesced from stars and seas— dust to sky to ocean to algae to fish to bird to human, we are one being the Pleiades in every cell, the bell, the smile, the knife— why not live as if we chose this sacred life?
Thank you to the editors of The Tishman Review for first publishing this poem.
You want to fly, you got to give up the thing that weighs you down. Toni Morrison