11th to June 17th 2009
Absent any reasonable context, an aero-plane
landed. Then quite quickly those familiar templates in which my
imagination has gamboled are challenged. The English wear shorts,
they have cell phones called 'mobiles', their cricketers no longer wear
white, their weather is in centigrade, petrol is in litres and their money
is even more confusing.
One thing still is true. Magpies remain large
birds. I guess when I first saw Magpies, sometime in the 1960's,
they came with an array of newness that hid their size from me. I
became accustomed to them. Saw them in terms of their rhyme and
matched my thoughts to their numbers, wondered what it meant if I saw
seven in one place. Like African Bee-eater rhymes, the Magpie rhyme gave
me a meaning that Okanya might have shared. Something familiar, we
both might have understood. "One for sorrow, two for
joy." And sometimes if I couldn't see two, I'd close my eyes.
Serious and slow on the ground, a Magpie is not
crow, or falcon, or buzzard, which would make Magpies look small.
Instead their manner is that of a Mockingbird, or a Thrasher, or even a
House Sparrow, compared to whom a Magpie is big. It has happened
before. After Banana Quits and sparrows of the West Indies, Magpies
looked like Ostriches.
Our grass this June, incidentally, is greener than
English grass this June. These drenching rains that have turned tobacco
fields sour have not crossed the Atlantic. Their weather was perfect
for a week in the hedgerows. I could have slept in the dew while I
pushed my old bones across the chalk downs looking for that moment with
plants when a Bee Orchid in bloom is as close to god as I ever wish to
get. Then I might have come away awash with contentment, that sense
Instead, taxi drivers summarize with the bouncing ball
of race and politics and prices. All roads lead to ordinary
things. The things that matter, I suppose. The things the
well-adjusted guzzle in that healthy way. The things that define us, I
suppose. The things that will one day destroy us, I sometimes
She was old and toothless and still wrong. Our
gesture appreciated until it was time to leave. Forgiveness I have
learned is for the ordinary paths, the ordinary roads, their airlines and
their taxi drivers. So it is better to be angry than sad because a
grave is too easy a thing for me to dig. An odd place to find purpose,
or union, or solace even.
But, were I a wise man, I might say this of the
material world: "To him who has everything more will be
given. To him who has nothing more will be taken." The rest
is delusion, and sometimes the real just hurts because idea is awry.
Justice, fairness so much fairy tale. "Vengeance," god once
wrote in the coloring book "Is mine!" and fools have followed like
Now it is good to be home, because here I have a
reasonable context. Shorthand for 'much more than you'. A competition
with truth that leaves me with "Seven for a secret never to be