After a while, one starts thinking in that language, dreaming in that language, as well as speaking in that language, and the behavior becomes different. —J. J. Jameson
Wind cannot change the dark, late March, when the strip of soil along my fence goes soft, ready for seed. From morning sky, a promise of heaviness. Clouds curl like smoke, cigarettes you ask for the day they fly you, bound, to Dedham. So I plant orange flowers, and yellow, whose petals trap sunlight, beacons lining the walk from garage to house. In my dream, you tell me
you have one more thing to do before you can come back: prune trees before sap rises, you say, no pain, no ooze, the firs sleep
beyond memory. From my angle of repose, do I see a branch blown upright or a hawk at rest in his hunt, moon melting layers of gold on new grass? In an orange hard hat you swing the cherry picker. The bandit raccoon crosses a network of roofs yard to yard. In the alley, the grinder lops wood into sawdust. “As long as I go to heaven, that’s all what counts”—your answer to my fear of awakening
to my heart chained to a wall. Meanwhile, the storm comes slate-grey while monarchs weave among unbloomed sunflowers.
At the first cut the earth does not thank the blade. Is it rape then?—the bite of steel, its point incalculably harder than dirt, its mark the hiss of death, the metallic taste of sorrow. And what does the earth cry, its tangle of root a living shroud rent by force? Memory longs to preserve what has already grown. The furrow is wet with tears, brown heart exposed, underworld of worms and slugs prey to birds, dreamless of deep new roots, of shade: the palm tree of Deborah, towering crown of green.
The ravaging is not yet complete. Jeremiah’s voice rages against Yahweh’s violation, at first petulant and then violent in return. It has always been so. Sixty discs slice the remaining sod, merciless, efficient: vestiges of cover criss-crossed into oblivion. Blind stalks mourn the loss of the sun, overturned into darkness, food for the coming reign. There is a quiet loss, the peace of death— stillness in the wake of wrath.
The thunder god is always the god of heaven and of death. Rain and death both bring life, black earth signifying a bed, a womb for golden seeds dropped from the mouth of the god, for a cause not one’s own. Is there a more tender bliss than the sweet swelling, the burst seed? Tendril roots uncoil, the seedling unfurls— moon-pale shoots beneath green and gold. The seed takes possession, the violated earth sings, the rich strains reach heaven.
Now there is only the heart— oiled and rosy as a hoof—and within its wooded walls lives an evergreen: on each bough, the jeweled gestures of birds in winter.
There is the pain of isolation, thus any snowfall becomes solace layering each needle, each feather so slowly that both are gradually disfigured, made similar, then hidden entirely.
Study war no more
Mar 18, 2011
Michael Izbicki grew up in a nondenominational church in California. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy out of a sense of duty to his country during a time of war. At the naval academy he began to doubt whether the career to which he had committed himself could be squared with the tenets of just war doctrine. He got in trouble when he responded no to this exam question: "If given the order, would you launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?" After a four-year legal battle, the navy discharged him as a conscientious objector. Izbicki may have to reimburse the service for part or all of his education (New York Times, February 22).