Act One

Is it the flaw in me, the inability to see out the top of my head, and the lack of dexterity, the rubber of limbs that bend in the way of tree branches, that leaves me so open to anger and sorrow and fear?

And worse, I’ve been hating. I hate the frackers and the drillers. I hate the uniformed ones who wear their belts dark and heavy around their guts. I hate the youth who sport iron crosses and fly confederate flags.  And guns, I hate guns, the buyers and the sellers. I hate the liars. I hate the thieves. I hate everyone who makes a profit and a joke off the backs of children. 

I don’t want to be a hater. I tell myself that I must find a different place to stand, a different way of seeing. I tell myself to take a walk.

I get breezes of fresh, fragrant air, the way air is supposed to be. The Magnolias are blooming, throwing their blossoms across streets and alleys, having a regular old perfume party. I breathe it in and I think everything will be okay. But seconds later, the air is laced with the stench of Glyphosate. The moment is wrecked. I pull my shirt collar over my nose. There’s poison everywhere and so much noise of people striving. It is not the soft whistle of hope. It’s the rattling buzz of desperation. How does a person look in the face of evil and not begin to hate, not become its opposite equivalent?

What I’ll do, I decide, is focus in on the small things.

Now, I gather my hair in my fist. Now I fan my neck. It is hot, hotter than normal.

Now, the Arctic is melting. So much water and no really clean water except maybe in the Pingualuit crater.

Now, I wash strawberries, organic strawberries, the kind without the witches brew of pesticides that migrant workers breathe. Now I cut them. I put them in bowls and hand them, glisteningly sweet, to my children. 

Children in cages don’t get strawberries handed to them like that, especially since their mothers and fathers have been torn away from them. Especially since prisons and make-shift prisons used to house people who have committed imaginary crimes, are making a ton of money.

Now, I drive my car. It is not covered in ash. It has never been submerged in water up to its windows. I have never suffered from thirst or suffocation while in my car.

Now I walk into the grocery store. It is called Festival Foods. Compared with supermarkets in Venezuela, this is a festival. I used to live in Venezuela. I used to want to live in Venezuela forever. Then a goat became president and, after that, an ass. First, everything shiny began to disappear. People protested. Then people started to disappear and the morgues were filled to capacity. Men with guns and men on motorcycles with guns took over the streets. Little by little the comforts of civil society disappeared. No hay pan. No hay medicina. People with enough money got on airplanes and left, though some brave ones stayed. Those who were poor to begin with, who suffered more, began to walk across borders. This is one of the ways migration happens. 

Now I drive near the apartments where Dick and Audrey live and I say a prayer for their wellbeing. And for Louise and the other Louise and Lois and Ed, may they rest in peace. And MomDadGrandmaGrandpaHelenBlancheJoeSharonPatGrandpaGrandmaPatMaryAliceLarry and Norma. I stop now. How can I ever reach an end? I have to believe that when I pray for one, by thread and reach, I am praying for everyone. One prayer is every prayer. One act is every act. You take the pictures. You cook the food. You write the story. You donate money. You march in the street. You invent. You discover.You make the decision to be kind to everyone. Me, I’ll unclog the toilet with a broken plunger for the old lady with the weak arms.

Now, I bring the groceries to my kitchen. Now, I put away the bread. Now I think of wheat and chaff, sheep and goats. In this country, there is a goat for a president and chaff in congress. I never wanted to live in the United States, yet here I am. This shows how privileged I’ve been. It is nothing I earned. 

Every loving act is a force. Please, act in any way you can.

11 thoughts on “Act One

  1. I have found myself being a hater and disliking it, too. I have found it a poison, much like glycolphosphate, that I have been slowly spraying onto my children, my crop. I don’t know how to face this world without it eating away at me. My reserve of defenses is depleted. A wise friend told me long ago that the only change a person can truly effect is one-to-one. I must say a wider net of caring.

  2. I know. There doesn’t seem to be a bridge to talk to the people who think differently than me. I am defeated by the depth of indoctrination and misinformation. There is a resistance to verifiable truth just like the brainwashing of a cult. I am allergic to the chemicals in everything! It is selfish and shortsighted for me to run away to some mountain haven, rather than fight for a solution. But I want to be somewhere I can breathe and be healthy.

    • The only good thing about winter is that lawns don’t get sprayed!I’m looking for a mountain,too, and I have to believe, since my desire is string, that it will happen. Until then, I have to remind myself daily to do the little deeds with extreme care. It keeps the mental chaos at bay.

  3. Beautiful! I love and miss your gorgeous writing. “Every loving act is a force. Please, act in any way you can.” Is truth told with kindness and heart. Thank you, Shannon

    • Thanks Ev, that’s such a great way of putting it, a little different from how I was thinking about it. Instead of prayer just being limited to thoughts and words, it’s a whole body thing. Wonder women and Super men.

  4. This took my breath away. To hear your own experience of a nation changing. Your creation brings wisdom and beauty. Creativity, wisdom and beauty are the great resistors to any kind of darkness. Thanks for all of it, Ms. Shan.

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