The mind swings inward on itself in fear
Swayed towards nausea from each normal sign.
—derek walcott, “A Lesson for This Sunday”
On a lake, in the woods, in 1940, my grandparents built a cabin. One room, big stone fireplace, outdoor privy. They lived and worked outside New York City and spent summers in Maine, my grandmother often here alone with three young kids but no electricity, plumbing, or heat except the wood-burning fire. Surrounded by one hundred acres of no one. Up the road, there were neighbors: the Garnetts and the Hibberts—and the Savages, who lived up to their name, my grandmother used to tell me. They ate with their hands off the table’s pine boards. Mrs. Hibbert shielded her children from the Savage boys when they came around, sometimes en route to my grandparents’ place for supplies—whatever was lying around unprotected.
He wakes from dreams of killing. Heavy timber. Shaggy forms moving through the rocks, the alpine flowers. A plane passing overhead in his sleep, in his dreams, a silver spot against the sky. He raises the rifle. He wakes and is in the night. The animals fade, the air thickens. He is alone and paralyzed, and he wakes, and she is sleeping next to him.
A few months before I moved in, Serge was sitting in his house cleaning an AK-47 when it went off in his lap. Looking down, he found his hands were still intact, and he decided then and there to stop selling weapons. On the French mainland, he’d gone to school for aitiopathy, a form of physical therapy that seeks to provide treatment without pain. Down the line, he still looked forward to opening a private practice; gun running wasn’t worth the risk of losing any fingers. Eventually, Serge’s friends would tell me about his arsenal, though I never saw it myself. Each of them had seen a weapon at his house, and they realized, comparing notes, that the individual guns they’d seen were all different. In fact, Serge seemed to have a very large collection.
You don’t fall far from the tree. Is that because you are adamant? In Adam’s fall/ we fell all, bruised? Software? What keeps us processing even if besotted? Knowledge? What’s the big idea? Is it my soul in your interface?