Photo 1Issue: Section:
where i am, one of the major continental rivers runs both north and south. or east and west at some points. mind the contradictory whitecaps in the photo.
the only reason there is a town here at all is that people in the boats got so frustrated and confused that they pulled up and put in to seek local advice.
some unloaded and portaged. some shot the falls.
everyone bought our food, lodging and beverage as a part of their ultimate decision.
at some point in the last century the civic minds that mind such arrangements built locks to reach out to america. "we are negotiable," they said. "don't fear the falls." "just keep moving." it worked.
now we scamper on rocks in flip-flops. we make our own tie-dyes. we cut our nails every once and again and wonder what will become of the retired railroad bridge.
we mind what's coming down the river and what gets caught in the ebb.
we catch a lot of fish in the confusion, but you can't eat that shit. it's an exercise.
pretty much everything is an exercise here.
we have been left behind.
here or there. me or you. we're pretty much all in the same town. in the same town that's here or there for more or less the same reason. we're either stopping for a bite to eat and a place to rest our heads, or we're cooking the food and making the beds. our grandparents may have lived in our houses before us, or the walls that contain our homeplace might have been erected while we watched last spring, anxious about the impending rain or budget overruns...
on the coasts, at the deep bays, droves dislodge or are taken on board. the rivers and roads and railroads disperse or collect these travelers, either to deposit them at the bays or to scatter them along the continental furrows.
towns are fertilized, grow and flower. towns are choked off, wither and die. we the people are the seeds, the feed and the fruit. we decide fates with our wandering and rooting. sometimes we build monuments to our profound joy, sometimes we curl up and die. in each case, we are left behind. we are left behind as characters in the lore and dramatic narrative of the places we pass through. we are left behind in memory as agents or ambassadors of the places we left behind before arriving at this one. we are left behind in the waste and beauty we create, while as cotyledons or in full bloom or as dry stalks. every footstep is a grain of pollen, every conversation compost.
and who is watching this exercise, this seething and teeming, this advance and retreat, this closed system constantly reallocating resources along its lines of distribution? who is the witness? from the balcony of space, from our faithful satellite the moon even, our fitful yet flowing ballet on the planetary stage cannot even be discerned. it would be a magnanimous stretch to deign to give our collective choreography the review of "boring". that implies that something happens. it may be clunky or obvious or trite, but something happens, albeit poorly. from a distance, there seems to be nothing happening here.
but that's just it. there is no audience distinct from the cast. we all participate. in a poppy field or a gravel lot that sports one hardy gerbera, we grow and display and lay ourselves down because that's what we do. we do it for ourselves and we do it for our fellow dancers, the other flowers.
what are you leaving behind, i wonder.
words by S as in Frank