Friday, March 23, 2007

Another Poem about Death

(I swear I am quite happy these days)

I have never seen a badger. Now I must revise that statement. I have never seen a live badger. I infer from the proximity of the A316 that its death was the result of the weakness of flesh against the velocity of metal. Although no visible violence can be seen on the small animal’s body.
For weeks, on my daily commute, I have seen the process of its decomposition. The cold weather has shielded my senses from the vulgarity and revulsion of its decay. Instead I have watched the subtle dissolution from a seemingly sleeping creature to a dark mass hardly distinguishable from the earth around it. Its fur first expanded, filled with unsensed but fetid gases created by the expulsions of feeding bacteria. Then it deflated and its fur was picked by birds for nesting material. The exposed flesh blackened and shrivelled. The rain pushed it further into the soil and splattered mud to camouflage it further. Except for the glimpses of bones and teeth brightly seen. Everyday, I have a harder time satisfying my morbid sightseeing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Three men tapping on the grave of an uncle. This tiny gesture. The men crouching and motionless except for their index fingers quickly tapping messages beyond their generation, through earth and coffin, to reverberate against the quiet bones laying in darkness. With soundless vibrations, they communicate love, duty and the painfulness of loss to the remains of the man. This tiny gesture. More striking than their previous laborious devotions of washing the grave from a plastic litre bottle of water and pulling the petals of yellow and orange flowers to frame the gravestone portrait. These three men and this tiny gesture filled me with love for humanity.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

cultural observation number 453/i:

The stonework of Tuscany is littered with little black lizards very much like the southern United States. The difference is no generation of Italian children seemed to have recognised the entertainment value of getting the little creatures to bite your ears (it doesn’t hurt and they don’t let go) causing them to dangle like earrings. At this suggestion, each native I spoke to was surprised that this was a possibility. Upon my recollection of my own childhood, this was the immediate conclusion when I discovered the lizard’s nature to bite and hold on tenaciously.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The tube carriage was full but not to the point where the next pregnant woman boarding would have to stand in front of the seated businessman while he played video poker on his blackberry. Everyone was busy pretending to not examine their fellow passengers or reading their three-for-two novels. We pulled into a station and the doors opened. The theme song to the A-team sung acapella in duh-du-duhs entered the train from a raspy masculine voice. Immediately following it was a dishevelled man. Tall and thin dressed in aging, dirty and torn leathers. His ginger hair was slicked back tight against his skull by its own grease. He moved down the length of the carriage by means of a James Brown shuffle step, twisting and bobbing his head to accentuate the A-team’s tune. Occasionally he would point to a passenger and pause the song as a call for them to pick it up and make it a duet. No one obliged, and rarely did anyone make eye contact. As if the man singing the bar chord guitar parts to an 80’s American TV show could escape a person’s attention.

You know. The A-team theme song is pretty catchy and it was one of my favourite childhood shows. It’s the perfect song to prepare you for a half hour’s entertainment of men being thrown in slow motion and Mr. T’s witticisms. Maybe that explains why when the man cued me to join in his song; I did with equal gusto as him. I even pointed back and mimed his head nods. In return there was a knowing smile and we sang until the closing refrain. He started the song once again and continued his way along the carriage and into the next, pointing, singing, shuffling and nodding his head in time.

From the changed glances I received from my fellow commuters, it was collectively and tacitly decided I was not one of them. An appellation I hope for everyday when making the dull cattle cart trek to sup at the monetary feed trough of employment. Was this the point? Was the A-team serenader gloating? Was his pointing finger meant to shame? I certainly felt content by my tiny rebellion, too timid to make any greater sacrifice than the disapproval of strangers. It is worth noting that of all the people in that carriage, only man I accompanied and I were smiling.

When I think about it, the man showed no surprise when I joined in. He had gone past two dozen people without anyone acknowledging him, much less answering his call to sing along. Yet, when one of the suited herd did join, it was if he expected it. It was just a matter of finding which one of us was willing. Was that his purpose? To find that one or was it for that one, me, to come to the realisation I too am one of those.