My dear friend Andrew Gerber, of Paoli Indiana, sent me a poem the other day. As its emotional, spiritual power thudded through me, I wondered if my readers would be able to absorb it — and then promptly forgot, once again swirled into the fractious, gusty winds of what is still called “life” on our planetary home.
Then, two days ago, Andy called me as I was sitting in my car just about to drive to my next errand. As cars chugged by, trailing noxious fumes, we sat and talked. He asked me how I was doing. I said I was making enemies — with several recent fractious exopermaculture posts. He said he was sitting with his enemy. And then I remembered the poem. I asked him if he would allow me to use it, cushioned by commentary that he would write. He agreed to do this. We signed off. Here goes:
My dog is dying. Tonight he curled up on the floor near where I was working. There was blood running out of the growth in his left nostril. Occasionally he would wake up and lap up the dark red pool. I had the radio on, listening to the primary election results. Donald Trump was making his victory speech after winning Indiana. Trump’s rival, Ted Cruz, had just conceded giving Trump the nomination.
The speech was standard Trump. Everything was to be great, bigger, better, stronger. There was so much greatness that I began to wonder who actually believed these words. As I was lost in this thought, the haunting iron smell of all the blood on the floor transported me. Once again I was working as a hospice nurse in a large hospital in Chicago. I could hear the same words promised by Trump being spoken by the medical staff. “Everything will be fine . . . we’ll do more of this or another round of that.” I remember looking at the dying person wondering if they believed anything the doctor said.
All these vague promises of happiness and greatness are meant to keep that which we fear most at bay. They don’t. I remember looking down at my loving canine friend of ten years taking communion from the cup of his own end. How do I do this? How do I hold a space for that which I fear? How do I take back my enemy from the marketing agencies and the politicians who strategically herd me with fear fences for their benefit and profit? How do I grow my own enemy?
The word enemy is from the Latin”in” for “not” combined with the word for friend (which comes from “amare,” “to love.”) It is that which is not loved or friended. I want to invite that which is not loved in me for a true conversation that leaves us devastated and unable to find our way home to “great again.”
Once we realize we are hopelessly lost, we might stop lying to each other, and set the banquet table with utensils washed with tears and dried with long inhaled silences. The feast will not be for us but for those that follow, because we will have turned around. No longer trying to return or be born again we will be willing to follow our ancestors in a line of dancers that is born of the beginning, welcomes all, and leaves songs for those that follow. May it be so.