This is from something I wrote a long time ago and I had forgotten about it as I have with most of what I have written. When I read it, I was surprised. Why did I write that? I can’t recall.
We are more than just what we do and say, more than our DNA and the way we grow. We are also the way we remember. Our memories, regardless of how accurate, are like paint and brush upon skin. We become what we remember.
This is a cutting of what I recalled, and like I say, I have forgotten it, but now try to remember it once again. Life is confusing, but everything will be peaceful at the end. No more doubts and worries, no more heart attacks at night, or moans in the soft garden, only a great longing for something we cannot name.
I have updated it to fit the moment, still it is a personal history lesson of some sort.
One of the things I remember is that mothers and fathers are waking up in the middle of dreams all across America. The faces of children rise out of the depths of sleep; calling for help and comfort. A voice from a political leader sounds. He is talking up violence and hatred. He never went to war. He avoided the great conflict of his age. Many years later, I’d have an opinion of such people; those who never risked their life in war. Those who do not understand death. I concluded that those sorts of individuals needed to lie in a field covered with bodies and try to sleep amid the flies and putrid flesh. They needed to write a letter home while resting their head upon a corpse. It might teach them something. Better yet, they should kill a baby with their hands. Surely that would affect their words and the beliefs they attempted to foist upon others.
In my mind, I can write about the visit. How my grandfather is a mean man and how my grandmother is a woman of few words. How we speak a combination of German, French, and English. I can draw a picture of the summer passing with long runs along winding dirt roads that take me into the kingdom of the corn where the doves and rabbits rule. How I sleep outside because of the heat and how the poison sprayer comes down the street and covers me with insecticide. I can show you the photo of the girl at the bowling alley and how she takes me skinny dipping to the lake and we lie beneath the tapioca pull of the stars, naked and alone in our youth.
There is a great weight upon me and it has come in the form of a Spanish language message delivered by Mexicans. It is about how I must change and take on a new skin as I walk down the streets of my small Mexican town. The words make me sad. It is my fate and my genes have been cut out of the French, German, and English blood that runs through my veins. I will die in Mexico, this I know. South Dakota is too far away, so is Africa and El Salvador and Honduras. Texas has turned into Germany. I can’t go back to Thailand or Bangladesh or Bosnia or Rwanda. Burma, out of the question. They wouldn’t let me in any way. Europe is gone to hell and Panama has slipped into the ocean. What would I do in New York City or LA? I must stay here in my new skin, thinking about how we never really understand ourselves or our children, even at the end. This is my fate and I will rename this great weight in honor of a Mexican flower, the one just outside my window … the little purple spotlights shining upon my wall.