Wednesday, July 29, 2015

As Peter the squirrel walked toward the male human's garden, he knew what he was about to do was wrong; it might even get him killed.

It was too late to change his mind, his eyes would not focus on anything but the precious vegetables; the ones the male human so tenderly worshiped. Peter ducked under the small barrier fence, walked through the aging turnips wilting in the sun and approached the tall, manicured tomato plants; swollen, red fruit hung rich and heavy on the vines. Peter stood at the side of the plant for a moment, admiring the sculpted handiwork of the male human. Peter then began tearing the fruit from the vine, pulling each tomato off in the most destructive way, ripping the fruit apart and throwing it's red, bleeding carcass onto the brown earth. One tomato for ever humiliation heaped upon him over the years from the male human; one for every bark and scare from the male human's wicked dog, for the constant fear, the loss, for every time he had sat trembling from a near-miss. Peter tore and ripped, slinging the vile fruit in a blind rage; the rage no longer needed the catalyst of his flawed reasoning, simply rage and fear and anger and humiliation. 
At some point, perhaps for lack of eligible fruit, or forgetting exactly why he started, Peter the squirrel began to regain a bit of his sense -- sufficient composure to exit the garden, travel back up his hometree, glance down at the carnage and enter his house. Peter laid down on his cot, pulled the flannel sheets over his head and slept for a very long time.

The first time I watched Fried Green Tomatoes, yes I've seen it more than once, it was the scenery that struck me the most. The outside shots, at least, were filmed in my old stomping grounds. There is one location in the film, a river that is flattened out and spills over a dam, causeway? Not sure what its purpose is, but it is an odd sight, then and now. I remember the place vividly from my childhood. When you walk across, one side to the other, the entire river spilling evenly over the top, you get the sense that you are alternately walking on water or falling sideways along with the water onto the rocks below. Heaven and hell. Death and salvation.

Recently, I started watching another show filmed in Georgia. Lo and behold, another body of water from my past, perhaps an even more obscure one at that. The stream has, or at least had, a unique ecosystem. It flows primarily through gorges cut into stone so it was not as friendly to the mud loving varieties of fish swimming around the Peach State. Usually, when you have a body of water in Georgia, it fills with all sorts of fish, cannot keep them out. This stream with its smooth pockets of clear water was home to only one kind of fish - a lanky, strong perch I've never seen anywhere else.

In the movies, both places looked exactly as I remember them, every detail. Heaven and hell. Death and salvation.

Authorities confirm that sometime around 11AM on a sleepy West Coast street, nothing particularly interesting happened. Eyewitnesses report seeing veggies growing, weeds growing more and a large, unruly dog yipping for waffle last bite.

we were young and brave beings
reeking of desire

we held youth in our right hand
immortality in our left

death cowered before us
an impotent shell

we were the first generation
we were the last

"I must still be dreaming," thought Peter the squirrel, "What a ruckus!"

"No I'm not dreaming," pinching himself on the ribs, "what could be causing all this noise?" he thought.

Peter threw back his burlap bed sheet and walked over to the small round window facing the WolfAndMan garden. At this very early hour, and to his surprise, everyone that he knew was out near the garden; all the village people, the WolfAndMan, night creatures, day creatures, flying creatures, even the scurrying creatures were bravely defying the encroaching sun. No one seemed to be afraid of anything, not even fearful of the more menacing creatures in the crowd. What's more, they were all dancing and whooping like they just didn't care. Even Garden Snail who, on principle, never danced was dancing; he didn't even dance at that mandatory dance thing last year, which turned out to be a horrible mess; he was sentenced to seven days jail but enjoyed it so much that he refused to leave, which is also illegal and punishable by seven days jail... well you can see what a mess. Yes Garden Snail was dancing, even leading the dance with some crude song about a sailor's wife. He did not even seem to notice that WolfAndMan's wife had resorted to cartwheels and that he was standing within the general trajectory. 

"Has the world gone mad?" Peter thought watching several village people heartily stomping on his buried walnut patch, "ack... there goes my nuts."

"Oh... so you better not wink at the sailor's wife!" Garden Snail bellowed.

Lap lap lap, the river keeps time against our craft, pulling us through the dense forest. Lap lap, lap, it strokes the muddy banks on either side of us, moving earth in and out of the reddish-brown artery. On this third day of our journey, just past the sun's apex, we round a bend in the river. The forest darkens, the sounds of the river become muted. Our guide, crouching at the rear of our raft, moves us close to the bank on the left, places his right hand on his throat, closes his eyes and produces a long, deep guttural sound. Within a few seconds we hear several creatures in the forest responding with the same unhuman sound. Our guide tells us that we are now entering the Other.

In less than an hour, we witness the first creatures belonging to this strange place.

they had gathered for the great war...

the badasses now squatting
on the ground like scolded children

the peacekeepers in purple nitrile
laying hands on the dead

pondering how far from
sunday with the kids

the condors circling above
taking us one step closer
All flights are canceled
till the fog lifts and the sun
remembers its line.

no i cannot ignore
that bottomless space
that was you and i
and everyone else
when we performed
the unthinkable
held and feared
without reconciliation

was it yesterday
or forever ago