“So, girl, put down your phone and pick up your pen. Take a piece of the dark and put it on a page. “– Laurie Uttich, from TO MY STUDENT WITH THE DIME-SIZED BRUISES ON THE BACK OF HER ARMS WHO’S STILL ON HER CELLPHONE
The wind is howling outside, You can hear the treetops respond,the window creak and if you look the world is in motion, swaying Humanity and our days change But nature is relatively constant Now, green and verdant Bursting past spring to a Northern California summer like it has for thousands of years before we settled here, along the river. The birds and the grass don’t know that we no longer congregate in groups we no longer sit together in halls or ball parks or concerts or theaters. We no longer wander museums, scratching our heads at modern art and we don’t ride the train or the subway or the metro anymore We haven’t gotten close enough to someone strange to sniff their hair or to observe the color of their eyes and how the rim around the light caramel brown is darker and how there are chips of color scattered on the iris The squirrels, the geese, the fish don’t know and they don’t hardly care even if they could put a name on it. But the wind still blows, pushing clouds across a wide western sky. The trees continue to lean and sway. The river water continues its rushing journey. They are older than us. Here before. Here after. How small our discomfort is when viewed against this backdrop. A backdrop of sky and stars clouds, wind, sun setting where it always has. How small we are. How big everything else. How big. It will endure.
Yesterday the Russian Hockey team took a dive bomb and were pulled from the wreckage, still strapped in their seats, waiting to see God. Today, blue carpet and black chairs point towards oversized CNN Headlines: “TEACHING 9/11.” I’ve already scoped the room for brown people, identified two. Headgear? Male? Female? It’s a ritual now. Ten years ago, almost, waiting for United, a turbaned stranger triggered a facial tic. I wasn’t the only one looking. Today, the plane’s brakes screech and groan, scratch the runway, drown out my whispered prayers and chanted mantras to keep the tic from taking over. Today, when landing, we tip left to right, leaning sideways, seatbelts straining to keep us in our seats. We wait for God, murmur sighs and gasps of relief when God overlooks us, this time. There’s no need to teach Nine Eleven. We’ve already learned.
September 9, 2011