This lament was written to the prompt of a black and white photo depicting a waterfall with rowboat suspended as if weightless at its base.
Color me grey. Remove gravity. Add rushing water, but make it still. Strip the leaves off spring trees and tell them to rustle. Pick the ants off fists of peony-buds so that the flush of pink stays tightly balled inside. Put one paddle in my row boat instead of two. Hide all partners. Put sky in the water. Remove sky from above the horizon. Dangle untruths like earrings on beauty queens. That old saying, “If you piss on my foot and tell me it’s raining, it ain’t raining,” comes to mind. Gravity might have governed once. Now we float above institutions and look down and wonder how they ever worked.
We ready ourselves to row and row hard, really put our backs into it, only to discover that there is only one oar. The old push to get out the vote is so cute anymore. The sticker on your lapel not a badge of much if your vote can so readily be thrown out. Men on the national stage are pledging to do just that and they’re not laughed at or removed with a cane.
One Texan speaks up and makes good trouble. He’s not even shouting. The armed men on stage point and holler with a Klan-like vicious unity. Get out! Get out! Get out! A Texan in a blue oxford shirt surrounded by arms raised, cameras filming the moment of infamy. Theirs, not his. Get out! Get out! Get out!
The water of time keeps falling over the ledge. So there is gravity — just not in America — where up is down and down is up and nothing rushes anywhere except violence. DNA of grieving parents required to ID some of the ten-year-old bodies. What does that tell you?
It almost sounds like armed officers escorted the shooter inside. You’re not “containing” anything if the perpetrator is locked in a room with an entire classroom of kids.
Why won’t shadows behave anymore, as in calling evil evil and not publishing a nuanced view of evil’s view of good. The Fourth Estate. Give me a break. Get in your boat and row. With one oar, you’ll go in circles, illuminate nothing, perpetuate everything.
The sidewalk rolls up in protest. A press conference of lies. Parents demonized instead of the supposed good guys with guns called out for their cowardice.
Beer bellies hemmed by holsters. Angry men raise their arms and point. Get out! Get out! Get out! as if demanding answers was the problem and not a room full of dead fourth graders and their teachers.
I hear the children playing at the near elementary school the day after and wonder, Have they been told, and if so, how, in what words, with what omissions, and with what false assurances of safety.
How the mind splits. It happened to them. It having happened to them means it can’t happen to me. Nice try. The Boulder shoppers gunned down at one son’s regular grocery store. A man shot in front of my brother’s Glendale pharmacy, the flowers lining the sidewalk in ineffectual witness.
What did their parent tell their elementary-school-aged children when I can’t even tell the story to myself?
“Get in your boat and row. With one oar, you’ll go in circles, illuminate nothing, perpetuate everything”. This says it all for me, Dee, regarding these horrific tragedies and inept handling of it all, so frustrating, wrong and blatant. Your images say even more. Thank you.
It’s been such a horrible week.
You look on in disbelief, your heart breaks, you cry, hope is shattered and you try to come to grips with yet another tragedy, telling yourself that it can’t happen here…
On the same day as the Uvadle shooting, a student in Albuquerque and a student in my city, Rio Rancho, New Mexico, brought guns to school. In both of these instances, other students knew and told the school authorities who confiscated the guns and said no threat was implied…really, taking a gun to school is not a threat? The student in Rio Rancho faces charges and in today’s headline, over 50 potential gun threats have been made to Albuquerque public schools since January…does the fact that no shootings occurred, give us a pass…?
Voting may be a cliche but I don’t know of any other way to take a stand; we can hold town forums, community gatherings, light candles, bring flowers, create memorials- all balms until the next time and there will be a next time until our leaders are asked to account for themselves: I usually have a high threshold for hope but I’ve got nothing but dismay and disgust and in Houston, the beat goes on…
Those are staggering numbers, Marti.
And of course I hope to vote them all out. Sometimes despair speaks louder is all.
I don’t even know what to do, what to say anymore.
This CANT be what we’ve become…
Stunned and heart broken. Heart broken and stunned. Yesterday I read this quote, “have you considered that the fatigue you’re feeling is accumulated grief?”
All of this Dee. All of this. Each one of us trying to get through as best we can…but being taken down by the reality. How does a young child even think to grab her dead teacher’s phone and call 911? Who taught this grade school girl to smear her friends blood on herself so it would look more real when she played dead? Smear.
Who are the adults anymore?
On the way home, a vase of flowers outside a storefront. I tried to see what was there, why the flowers may have been placed there? All I could see was a vision center and a medical office and a couple of other stores. So? Do they do abortions, children at conception? Was there a shooting, a car accident? Were they set down by mistake or because someone inside has allergies? Why on earth would flowers bring up so many odd, somewhat disturbing questions.
It is a sick, sad world right now.
Tomorrow we vote.
I hadn’t heard the smear detail.
Thank you for your beautiful post today. They’re always lovely but today’s hit the mark.
Who are the adults, indeed?
Oh, Dee… you’re writing gets to the quick of it all. Cried off and on for three days, and today there were waves of nausea, feeling I might vomit with every new piece of information. Just finished writing that I think I need to stitch some boats.
shock waves, the (un)imaginable pain the families are in
I thought about the boy who did the shooting,
but then I thought about how we grown-ups are leading by example: Putin, Assad,……
the reaction in the Western world: send more weapons to Ukraine, Syria, where ever
how violence is a response we all use
‘accumulated grief’ absolutely
brilliant writing … so much truth here … and this line echoes: “Beer bellies hemmed by holsters”
Violence begets violence … it has been the knee-jerk response of mankind forever … except that now we have ever more efficient ways of administering it
and yes, I use the term “mankind” intentionally … pointedly
this is the best of all i have read, Dee. Extraordinary. it needs a wide audience…would
give image to hold on to
is truly the best..all the news outlets, NPR, etc there must be a way you can submit it
for wider publication
Thank you so much, Grace.
find a way. Try. find a way. i kept me afloat. i re read. keeps me afolat.