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Musings on Loneliness

 

We were social creatures from the start, mammalian bees, who depended entirely on each other. The hominids of East Africa could not have survived one night alone. We are shaped, to a greater extent than almost any other species, by contact with others. The age we are entering, in which we exist apart, is unlike any that has gone before.

                      (George Monbiot, The Guardian, October 2014)


              Recent books concerning the human dilemma that might be of interest;
                       Tribe by Sebastian Junger  and Sapiens by Yuval Harari


4 Poems  / 4 Drawings  / 1 Collage


The poems

 —Ishi;  Ishi was the last of his tribe and was taken in by Alfred Kroeber, the well-known anthropologist.   Ishi in two Worlds is Kroeber’s book about their experience.

 —Disaster is how I imagine my great grandmother might have searched for her daughter after the General Slocum disaster in New York, 1904.

 —Coyote Moon  was written from the collage.

 —Redemption  explores a possible way of assuaging existential loneliness.

 


Ishi

They named him “man”
in a variation of his native tongue.
In his tribe one never spoke his own name aloud.

The last of his people, mother and sister,
called to him as they died.

Dogs slobbered over him
in the slaughter house corral—

Someone suggested
he be the diorama’s inhabitant—

His mind was intact.  His shriveled body
recovered a semblance of itself.

He taught them to chip exquisite projectiles
from flint, obsidian, and from manufactured glass.

He smiled.  Wandered freely.  A spirit
gentle, self-contained.

Then, gasping, breathless,
he succumbed to our disease.

We burned his body,
bottled his brain.


Disasters

Great great grandmother Gertrude,
quilter of renown, how many times
were you jolted from this fearsome dream;

you search the shallows
where dead eyes gaze
from watery faces
among the sooty splinters
of the ferryboat.

High shoes slick with mud,
you wade midst splayed and sodden bodies,
to peer into the river’s mire
to see your own,
your only daughter drowned.

I hear you moan.

One tattered patch of your quilt survives; pieced
with black striped cloth, soft stained ivories
and crimson accents as vital yet as when it was designed.
Some myths dictate that white is death— black, life —
while red speaks to transformation’s possibilities.

Your grief has become my own.

 

 

 

 

Coyote Moon



The night is layered

thin dark clouds half obscure
a splintered shard of moon

and here and there
spiky turrets lurch into the sky

a pool, feathered by hairline shadows,
stirs in the broken light

bones stack in open pastures
spiraled shells sink into the ground

on a heap of rubble
coyote calls the goddess down


Redemption

A solitary, unbending
unlike the reeds wherein she stands—
which, sought by salted breezes, stir in unison
wave after wave
across the freshening marsh —

there   then   Flossie confessed,
I know what I have done…
The marsh stayed its flux
to whisper, I have heard.

A pair of Willets flash
their black and white striped underwings
as they rise out of the mud to exalt
before dropping from the sky
to become invisible again.

A cold mist absolves and words
cloistered for a lifetime
find refuge among the soughing stones
smoothed by the outgoing tide.

 

 

 

      *********************************

Two drawings of children.  Two of elders.

 The woman wearing the Santa hat is my late mother-in-law looking wistful in her solitude.