The Spider

The lives of the people I knew held no great magic or mystery. At best they found a safe haven where they could live in peace, raise families, and follow a well-worn path every day until they died in their sleep. Yet each was different than the other. The tumbling funnel that fed them to eternity was indiscriminate in who survived and who was dragged down into addiction or violent death.

Life has no favorites.

Ambition was as welcome as the flu, and meant that someone was corrupting the mold. An underlying truth to life among the labor class is that each believes somewhere in their heart that the jobs of our fathers was good enough for us, if we could get them. And not just for us, but for our children’s children. This is why the conservative strain runs so deep in America. We want to preserve the status quo as if freezing time and opportunity will guarantee lives of plenty for our sons and daughters.

In all their graves

and many tombs,

beneath the greening trees…

who’ll care for these:

who loved,

and laughed,

and lost,

broken and alone

The houses we lived in had been beaten by winter storms and baked by sweltering summers until, through constant expansion and contraction, the joints and seams were porous and open. They contained the belligerent bile of generations. Secrets and stories that emerged from under those roofs were passed down from father to son, mother to daughter. They were incubators of neuroses that grew more bizarre with each passing generation. Each novice added their own psychotic twists and warped understanding to the conflicts that went before them. One litter of mad dogs produced four litters of dogs madder than the rest.

Rarely could they rise out of the confusion and despair which weaned them, and often this conceit magnified the original distemper, until it had evolved into something insidious, subtle and vicious. We played in dirt laid by our grandfathers, and ran across streets thick with ghosts of immigrants. Triumphs were small, but magnified by the lens of poverty , while failures were catastrophic and the fear of change was a silent sickness more unpleasant than change itself.

We were entombed.

What sons will sweep

the gathered soil

from this chiseled face,

where names were drawn

and shaped

by hand,

then carved…

in blood and bone.

Children cannot know other. Their minds are occupied with the familiar and it becomes impossible to imagine an alternative. No one escaped the twists and totems of living in the crucible of laboring class America. We were force fed domestic abuse, bigotry and alcoholism. Poor people, living as well as they could, in a purgatory between past and future. They worked, they laughed, loved, raged and drank with passionate zeal. They hated their jobs, loathed themselves, drank to forget, took it out on the wife and kids, and believed they were good family men.

Each of us lives fighting, or following the passage of time until the very perception becomes wedded with a fear of it running out. We are young and sense the future as stretching endlessly ahead. Our hearts want to hasten the advent of age so that we can become more mature, richer, more beautiful, wiser. At some middle, we begin to realize that the tipping point has passed, and we are no longer waiting for age, but trying to forestall it. Youth slips away almost un-noticed while we indulge our callow hearts as if we would live without cease.

I, myself, see

the lowered light’

and know as well as you,

these threads we spin

through life

or love,

are not

of silk, but stone.

The young don’t notice being young, they notice that they are not enough.

I rejected each of my parents personalities. My mother was too weak, my father too angry. One enabled while the other disabled. I resolved to be neither of these. This meant living in an emotional gray space between, whose curbs were the edges of anger, and passivity.

I became nearly imperturbable. Except for that one major weak spot; the boundary I didn’t want crossed.

This was my grievous fault.

And no…I’m not going to tell you what it was.

This much I have learned: Love is acceptance…tolerance….and faith.

A daughter sits

beside the web,

and thinks of far away…

a joy gone by,

she thought

she knew,

yet still,

remains…unknown.

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~ by theoxherd on May 24, 2012.

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