Sunday, July 16, 2006

Words fail

It looks like where my grandparents lived
when they were still alive.

Bushfire country.
The forest burned and given to gorse,
parched scrub, sharp stones and dusty heat
that burns again each summer.

These tinder-dry days olive groves are grown there
and olives but not infants.
I mean there are no infants hanging in the olive branches,
no tiny legs, no little limbs.
The infants are alive not in the olive tree.

Don't cry. She has no use for your tears.
She had a water bottle.
If that will no longer serve, your tears will not revive her.
Light no candle. This is bushfire country.
A candle is the last thing anyone in their right mind needs.
You comfort no-one but yourself
with tears, candles, poetry.


Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

I see that As'ad, who I have frequently accused of not being angry enough, and who is providing excellent updates of the activities of US proxy forces, earlier today gave himself over to posting Darwish, so I will join him in that, to remind myself that when words fail, there is still poetry...

When the planes disappear, the white, white doves
Fly off and wash the cheeks of heaven
With unbound wings taking radiance back again, taking possession
Of the ether and of play. Higher, higher still, the white, white doves
Fly off. Ah, if only the sky
Were real (a man passing between two bombs said to me)...

Mahmoud Darwish

"Under Siege"

7/17/2006 1:33 am  
Blogger catnip said...

You comfort no-one but yourself with tears, candles, poetry.

but...I need comfort because I'm not yet enlightened.

7/17/2006 4:58 am  
Anonymous supersoling said...

My lighting of candles hasn't been comforting to me in any way whatsoever. It's very uncomfortable to look, to feel, to try to recognize my guilt in the pictures and stories presented in those diaries. For me it hasn't been about being a witness. It's simply been a a very, very small way for me to show recognition of lives lived and ended, needlessly and horrifically. But I understand that the practice can seem like a self serving ritual. My recognition of all of those people does nothing toward bringing about an end to the madness that has caused all of those deaths. I know that. And there is guilt there for that as well. But my guilt does nothing concrete either. It doesn't make me more enlightened. It doesn't make me any less a part of the machine that is doing the damage. Nor does it give any solace to the loved ones of the murdered and lost. As Nanette would say, they don't love me for anything I've done or said. And like DTF says, they probably don't even know I exist. But I do exist. And I do care very much that they are all suffering at the hands of MY government.

7/17/2006 1:01 pm  
Blogger catnip said...

My recognition of all of those people does nothing toward bringing about an end to the madness that has caused all of those deaths.

Consciousness of suffering and the willingness to look at your part in it does help to bring about an end to the madness. Candle lighting is a gesture, but it also reflects an attitude of compassion. The symbolism of bringing light where there is darkness in the heart has meaning.

7/17/2006 6:43 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Hi supersoling,

Actually, your post here is right near the top of my IOU's.

I don't want to deride RubDMC's series or your participation in it as self-serving or empty or any of that. Though I'll certainly admit to moment of bleakness, I do think that series valuable precisely because, day after day, steadily and relentlessly, RubDMC puts faces and names to people many of whom might otherwise be known to us only as numbers, i.e. "2 Iraqi teenagers were killed in Basra today." Obviously there are (or in some cases were), no shortage of people to whom they were known as far more than faces or names.

All of what Nanette said about this in the other thread is very true I think -- that's it's worth doing, but that it's necessary to think about what it does and doesn't mean.

My ambivalence, my bleakness, which is certainly on display here I guess, comes from an intermittent sense that we don't have a right to mourn, to the release which an expression of grief can provide. (Though that may be self-serving: as I've written elsewhere, I tend to a cold fury over sorrow, so in a way it's easy for me to say 'don't grieve.' And I don't want to say 'don't grieve' anyway.)

In Rwanda there are memorials where the victims of genocide have been left unburied, as they were when their murderers had done killing them. It's as a reminder, as a way of not forgetting, but it's something else as well, which I don't seem to have words for at present.

FWIW, it's not just your government to the extent that it is yours: DTF has said it elsewhere and he is right. For things to come to this pass required the complicity and collusion of a great many people and a great many states around the world.

7/17/2006 11:04 pm  
Blogger catnip said...


I tend to a cold fury over sorrow, so in a way it's easy for me to say 'don't grieve.' And I don't want to say 'don't grieve' anyway.)

My reaction to suffering, once I get past my anger which I don't allow to last too long at all, is sadness. That's where I always end up. We all grieve in our own way and fury is a part of grief.

I think the important point you made, however, was that we must not forget - no matter how we grieve. But, we forget all the time. People die around us and we vow to live a better life, but then the ordinary trivialities and challenges that face us each day distract us and we do forget what we had promised ourselves to learn.

That's one pecularity of the human race that stops so many people from moving on from a history we seem destined to repeat when, actually, that is not our destiny at all.

7/17/2006 11:50 pm  

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