It is Mr. Malleable's day of the week. The skies are dark and cloudy, the roads glisten with wet, yet it isn't raining. There are freshly-fallen leaves strewn about the sidewalks and, where there are no sidewalks, the sides of the road where asphalt meets gravel or grass. They have certainly fallen since the last rains came through because they still move like free spirits, not yet wet and heavy. They move like they still live high up in the breeze zone, they don't yet know they have died.
The transit bus in front of me must be trying to catch up with its schedule. A big boxy White Rabbit, it is moving along at an anxious full legal speed (plus a little). The freshly-fallen leaves get caught up in the bus' swirling wake and dance up in front of me on the road before sweeping under my front bumper. If it weren't so dark out I'm sure I would be able to see them behind me, now dancing in the wake of my car.
This is the season of dark mornings and dark evenings. Of watching for shadows that move along the sides of the road (don't they know that all-black clothing, while fashionable, is totally invisible in the dark?) against the glare of on-coming headlights, on both the morning and evening commutes. Caution mixed with impatience adds to the volatility of the road.
Even the swarms of kids have given in
To winter's big excuse, boxed-in allure:
TVs ricochet light behind pulled curtains.
The days throw up a closed sign around four.
The hapless customer who'd wanted something
Arrives to find lights out, a bolted door.
- Maggie Dietz, from NovemberGas prices are down again these days. Big and excessively-big vehicles fill the roads as those with short memories happily wrap themselves in 2 tons of aggressive sheet metal so they can once again tower over the rest of the traffic. I shake my head, bemused. They will probably be making excessively-big car payments for much longer than the gas prices will stay artificially depressed, but as we've seen this same movie a few times already I can't feel too much sympathy. Big, small, slow, fast, weak, powerful: everyone gets the opportunity to move at the same speed, which is precisely no faster than the car in front of you. The only variable is how much gas you consume while you move in queue.
Traffic was heavy coming off the bridge,
and I took the road to the right, the wrong one,
and got stuck in the car for hours.
Most nights I rushed out into the evening
without paying attention to the trees,
whose names I didn't know,
or the birds, which flew heedlessly on.
- from A Partial History Of My Stupidity, by Edward HirschHistory has been on my mind a lot of late. I fear we're watching a rerun of things that happened just outside the immediate memory of almost everyone living today, but not outside recorded memory we are all very familiar with. Like the gas prices movie, like freshly-fallen leaves. We know the path this narrative flows through, so we are without excuses.
An infernal angel passed in flight
just now along the avenure
in a crush of thugs; an eerie emptiness
lit and festooned with swastikas engulfed him;
the poor, defensless windows, also armed
with guns and war toys too, are shuttered up,
the butcher who decked berries on the snouts
of his slaughtered baby goats has closed; the feast
of the meek executioners still innocent of blood
has turned into a foul Virginia reel of shattered wings,
ghosts on the sand bars, and the water rushes in
to eat the shore and no one's blameless anymore.
- Eugenio Montale, from The Hitler SpringWe're in an uneasy quiet right now, a wait-and-see pause. Well, I am. Cockburn, singing at me this morning as I drive along, casts just the right mood:
Bell in the fire station tower
Rings out the measure of the racing hours
I slip through the door to the roof outside
To gaze at the sign hanging in the sky
That sailor on the billboard looks so self-possessed
Doesn't have a thing to forgive or forget
All's quiet on the inner city front.
- from, All's Queit On The Inner City Front
Today's Playlist (all Bruce Cockburn):
- All the Diamonds In the World
- All The Ways I Want You
- All's Quiet On The Inner City Front