An English In Kentucky



















June 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 of union. 



    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 think. 

    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 rabbits.

    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 told." 

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