Perhaps this will become
A petition to discharge debt
incurred in the process of trying to prove myself in the form of academic accomplishments and the possibility of potential to create some great change
that may save the world
by quietly naming the fact
that we don’t know how to see things
that our names are all wrong
She is a woman sitting on the front steps of a house that is not immediately crumbling, but that shows – on closer inspection – paint peeling from the eaves in sheets like birch, worn by the air if nothing else for years and years
(a place impossible to reach)
(can ladders rest on steps? Seems risky?)
She went to get her bag of pencils and wires and books – near blank journal and planner with the squares almost empty. Couldn’t find it, and felt – immediately crumbling – the vision of her drawing a picture of herself, knees up and glasses on. Hair a collapsing bun and wild tossed strands like marsh after a flood.
(Who am I to name my despair a hurricane?)
A petition to discharge my debt, with a letter from my very first psychiatrist, and interviews with former employers. “She did a good job, but wasn’t quite well.” “She struggled to be consistent.” There is the image of a woman on a wall phone, a nondescript hall, short by the nurses desk.
The profundity of the fact that she remembers the phones in clear visual – every phone in every hospital she’d ever been in. Calling the plumber Tammy who worked at the hardware store. Listening. “I knew you’d cut yourself. That it wasn’t an accident.”
“Can you bring my bear?”
Slamming the phone down, the short breathless walk to her room, you have to go out the same way you came in. There is no other way. The windows do not open.
The woman gets up again. Realizing that she may have found a thread, the sense of a line she can run with, a fragile constellation comprised of the thoughts and images of the morning, a press of not wanting to work, the morning thoughts of absenteeism, of calling out, not showing up. The contemplations of disability that have been with her for years.
I AM A DIFFERENTLY ABLED PERSON.
All the hundreds of essays on that topic of ability and aptitude and tolerance or lack there of.
The twisted cord of solidarity with all the people who are differently abled and yet show up to work anyway because they have no choice and who die inside to feed their children and keep a roof of some sort over there heads and all the brightness in them dies under fluorescents and they can’t smell flowers for the oily scent of blood and sweat and chemical concrete dust recycled air and not a single shaft of sunlight the endless beeping beeping beep beep beeping clawing clanging, boring ass days that bring no joy but release the brief journey home…some sneering internal voice that tells me I need to get over myself and stop complaining, to go to work, to get my act together.
Get. My Act. Together.
And how much I hate that shaming voice, and how it has been spoken by people I love and who I want to love me, which means to see me, and to understand that I am trying my best, but cannot help who I am and what I am.
“You are not disabled.”
“You are a bad mom.”
The voices coalesce, become an amalgamated blur of scorn and dismissal, pity and disgust.
Something about the Protestant Work Ethic and the leveraging of shame to compel participation in an economy that does not benefit you or your family or your community, an economy that uses our vital labor – our time and energies and talents, our lifeblood – to produce billions of dollars of profit for a very few people at the expense of global wellbeing on this planet. The terrible and withering shame that has been enacted to force us to compromise our instincts, to drag ourselves from bed with the noise from the day before still clanging in our heads, and our teeth worn down from grinding, keeping our mouths shut about how much we hate our fucking jobs…
I am lucky that I don’t hate my job.
I am so endlessly compelled to name how lucky I am and to then explicitly say that luck has nothing to do with it, that I am privileged. That it is the privilege of my father’s people that have put me in a position to have a job that I don’t hate, but also my differences in ability, also handed down to me from my father’s people, and my mother’s people, good people who want a just world, good people with unblemished and determined hearts, hard working people who give up themselves to show up for their family.
My mother. It occurs to the woman, still sitting on the steps in the cold air of a late April morning, sun rising and world coming alive in bird song and green light through new leaves.
[She takes a quick video. Noticing the way the cars go by, but that she can still hear the birds. Persistent birds. An entire history of a race called ornithological. The miracle of birds. The truck approaches and she imagines the smell of vinyl and carpet on metal floorboards, the dull stink of heat from the vents. The beginning of a workday.]
[imagined conversations with her children, now almost adults, about her smoking cigarettes again. ‘People use drugs and do dangerous things all the time.’ Considering the ways that her heart began to hurt when running, the shortness of breath and bounding pulse in the sweaty dark of early morning.
The reality of what she needs to do has been clear to her for a long time, and becomes clearer as she understands, with the beat of her heart, that she will not live forever, and that she will not be able to construct the artwork that is hers to construct – which is not one artwork, but many – all tumbling into one another over time and across subject – if she continues to give herself over to the needs of affairs that are not hers to tend to, the affairs of organizations, and of people who want to use her energies for their own gain and satisfaction.
Her head hurts. She called out sick from work this morning after a wave of light-headed nausea hit her at the gym. She walked into the bathroom, thrusting her bag at her daughter as the girl complained to her to come on, come on. There were things to do, get over it.
“No, really,” the woman said. “I feel sick.”
Her pulse had been up all morning, the machine telling her to slow down to reduce her heart rate, even though she was going slow. The machine had taught her to pay attention, and had given her a metric, a reading that – while it may be inaccurate – was consistently inaccurate.
She would spend the day trying to hold onto the thread she had found, would weave enough to know that she could come back to it, continuing working and building, find the voice again, the language that is hers to speak, the words that are hers to say, the stories only she can tell about who she is and why she is the way she is.
Yesterday, she spend 4 hours on Zoom, an Alternatives to Suicide facilitators training. “What is the name for your despair in your own language?”
“What is the path you found back from your despair?”
The facilitator had show slides telling how indigenous youth who know their language are less likely to commit suicide.
The woman wondered if maybe there was a new way of seeing white, a way that erased white and gave people back the best of their ancestors – not the twisted teachings of the industrial western world about who we are and what we are, but the best of how people understood themselves and understood others, the languages that were spoken long before America existed as a warped concept, culture, and economy wrought upon a place and upon all people.
“He was devastated,” my father spoke. “When the Consolidated Timber Company failed, he was just devastated. He had worked so hard to try to set things up so that my mother would be able to take care of herself.”
“When all that collapsed, he was just devastated.”
I do not know what that devastation meant to my my great-grandfather, a man I’ve never met and who is rarely spoken about. His name was Clarence, I believe. Clarence Moeckel, who everyone called Meck. His wife was my great-grandmother Rachel Beck, who wrote to her brother, Marcus Jr., that Meck was getting nervous again, after he ran away to something that was later called a circus. His letters named it otherwise, a swift retreat, a longing to be free, a turning from what was wanted of him by his father who – ten years after the death of his namesake son in the First World War, accepted – on behalf of the South – the monument to the Confederacy that was carved into the rock face at Stone Mountain, Georgia.
My great-great Grandfather was Judge Marcus W. Beck. Georgia State Supreme Court.
His sister was Leonora.
_______ came by, and I was glad to see them. I wrote them a note this morning explaining I was tired and resting, saying I’d check in with them later. I ended up being happy to see them at the gate, dapper in a tucked in blue plain twill and matching navy pants, a glowing white sweater and their No Hate In This State hat. The letters bright with the sweater.
I was happy to see them. My little dog, who I haven’t written about, because I have been busy and not well, disconnected from my voice, full of stresses and distractions, frontal lobe a cluttered mess of other people’s business.
She walked into the kitchen to find it dark and stinking of a hot oven. A plastic husk from a three pack of chocolate lay on the floor, dishes still in the sink. There he was in his mark-down sneakers, glaring white soles. “Hi,” he looked sideways at her. She set the brown bags from the grocery store down on the washer in the corner, head still pulsing a little, smell of something burning thick and acrid in the kitchen. As soon as she saw him she had felt herself clamp down inside, steel her face against his voice and plastered-on persistent ventriloquist smile. “Lurking,” the chorus of herself spit out, “lurking around in my house.”
“How are you?”
______ was friendly enough, blameless in his delivery.
“I’m well.” She felt her face dour and stern, unbecoming with her hair pulled back, the grey wires at her temples, the thin mouth set against anything that may be interpreted as a smile. Mustered a neutral assertive voice. “I am trying to keep my focus centered.”
______ looked at her. “So, if I seem rude, if I don’t say anything, it’s because I am trying to keep my focus, and that means not saying anything to anyone.”
(Ironically, he has just walked up the gate from the front steps where she is sitting in a white rocker carried down from the porch. She is not surprised to notice that she is unhappy to see him, but then he is carrying boxes for storage and 1/2 empty jars of Tibetan incense, a brass bell made of a fish.)
She was happy to see _______ She ended up being happy to see the person she had been in love with, and who she still loves, but who she no longer wants to be in a romantic relationship with and who she no longer wants to live with.
It’s a long story, like most love stories. In order to tell a love story, she’d have to name and describe all the small marriages and small divorces that shaped the time they’d spent as lovers.
She doesn’t need to do that now.
She would never have another lover – never be anyone’s girlfriend or wife. Never again.
She felt completely at peace in that, excited even, to have finally put all that behind her, to have finally learned enough about love to know that it is marred by words like girlfriend, marred by words like wife. Words like mother.
I only want to be people’s friends, and only in ways that do not ever preclude me from spending time with other friends, which include birds, trees, wind, my dog, and myself, and drawing, and reading. It is not that I don’t value my human walking-talking friends, the people I’ve met with whom I have shared some connection and who I have endeavored to maintain contact with and to continue to have experiences with. Let’s face it though, the wind is much simpler. Dogs are much more straight-forward in what they want and how they see you. There are the tricks of identity and learning, the ghosts a d shadows of people as they play out what they know of love, of friendship.
Only people can break my heart in certain ways, and I am tired of having my heart broken.
Let me clarify what I mean by my heart:
I. My physical heart, the organ that pumps my blood through my body, and which I rely upon to continue living as an animate being. My physical heart is structured in the ways of my ancestors hearts and has been further formed by the experiences that I have had which have either strengthened the fibers that – held together and moving in rhythm – keep me alive, or have damaged them in either acute or chronic ways due to exposure to certain biological chemicals and the processes that they catalyze (a constriction of blood vessels, a hardening of arteries, an accumulation of fat and cholesterol, a rush of fluttering beating, a pounding due to lack of oxygen, the lungs compressed, unable to hold air.
As she writes this, she remembers – her heart beating fast – the exact feeling of laying on the couch in the dome, warm sun of Christmas Day and the creek glittering brightly through the plexiglass triangles that made up the walls of the room. Oak trees blew in wind from the ocean, from the swamp, east to west, from the south, the big warm ocean, the north, the big cold ocean. She lay their with her wrist on fire, the air still knocked out of her, still gasping and then breathing as deep as she could, breathing harder, trying to take in air, and not getting enough air, the sun hot and bright on her face as she tried to make a voice from the small push she had in her as her lungs were compressed from inside, some unseen force inside, the dull ache that had become her body, not even attached, where were her legs, where was her arm, there was only the pressing of her lungs and the tightness of her thin breathing trying to call her mother.
“Help…I can’t…I can’t breathe.”
She remembers trying to walk into the hospital, oddly dark, near night. Her father carrying her. She doesn’t remember anything else for a long time. Weeks maybe.
Because it was Christmas Day, and a fog had rolled in somewhere beyond the glittering creek, they took her to the hospital in an ambulance, crossing the St Mary’s River to get to Jacksonville, where a child who can’t breathe after falling from a bag swing and flying across a pasture might be properly cared for.
“I thought you would die. They told me you would die.”
This is what my mother tells me of that day, when I broke my spleen and filled up with blood.
I was too young – only 6 – to operate on, and perhaps there was no operation to fix a busted spleen, a spleen that had ruptured after the girl’s young body flew out into the open air and landed with a skidding thud onto the thin grass ground.
They must have had to keep me still. Must have had to keep me sedated.
The only three memories I have of the hospital are waking up terrified and crying for my mother, laying flat and trying to be still, but crying, and somehow knowing my mother wasn’t there, and crying for that, a keen panic in me.
A. Two years later when I was 8, a boy named Scott W. pushed me off a wood frame treehouse at the house near the corner of Osborne Rd and some street whose name I can’t remember but that Greys Gallery sits on the corner of, the place where
my mom’s friend Elizabeth taught me how to draw and paint a little, and where I later had my grandfather’s Lebanese hands cut off of a photo that I was having framed for my mother. Upon receiving this gift, she exclaimed, “His hands! Where are his hands?!”
She loved the way they looked on the mirror glass table at the Florida Milk Co office, where her father worked. I do not know if the office where the photo him, sitting while white men in 1950s business suits flank him standing was taken in Jacksonville, where he suddenly died of a heart attack when my mother was 10, leaving my grandmother (who I am named for) to care for her and her two older sisters, all young adolescents who adored their father, alone. She died of complications relating to emphysema and dementia. Her dementia was probably caused by emphysema, at least in part. The brain needs oxygen and the heart works hard to supply it.
My father has hypertension.
When I fell after being pushed off the tree house, I landed at an angle on a pogo stick laying on the ground. The pogo stick held one part of my arm up while the other part of my arm kept falling an inch further. The angle of the impact drove the joint that holds the radius and ulna to the humerus part and lodged bones that were intended to stay in the low structure of my arm up into the space that was only moments before my left elbow. I stood up gasping, my breath knocked out of me again, but determined to cross the yard to the plasticky round patio table where my mom was doing mom talk and not paying attention at all.
She crossed the yard dead-calm and not breathing, her broken elbow making her arm flop awkwardly and impossibly, her efforts to keep it from swinging, to hold it in place, to make it unbroken were mute flailing of muscle and bone that were all fucked up. “Mom,” she said. “I think I broke my arm,” holding up her arm from the shoulder, so that the limp sack of her unbound ulna and radius hung at 90 degrees from the arm that should have been outstretched.
She does not remember anything after that, though has a mental image of the inside of a helicopter, the sound and smell of the small space, the man to her left. She does not remember being in the hospital. The reason they had to life flight her was because she went into medical shock, meaning that her heart could not keep up with the demands of her body for oxygen, that something had flooded her and she wasn’t getting enough oxygen, even though her heart was trying to beat.
All of that is in my physical heart, as are all the times I got so upset, all the times I was scared and sad and angry. All those seering and tearing times.
All of those are in my heart, too, in the form of tendencies and scar tissues, adaptations to less than ideal conditions and disrupted normative operations.
(Memory: Visiting Dr. Buckingham, the brutalist orthopedic surgeon who removed the pins from my elbow with only local anesthesia, so that I could look down my arm and see the incision being made, see the pins being pulled from the bone, the dull pressure of my arm being held, the pulling of the pins, the way the skin poked and broke with the suturing needle. Dr. Buckingham gave me the pins and I later gave them to another art teacher who had been my mother’s student. Pam Johnson, who kept borzoi and horses.)
II. My emotional heart. See above re: ill-tendencies and scar tissues (literal in the physical heart, and also – here the in the figurative heart of feeling wounded in our heart due to the shock and grief of losing something or being very afraid to lose something that we feel like we need to survive, something we love.
(Note: there may be additional thoughts here, re the intertwining between dependency relationships, needs both real and perceived based on experiences within relationship and culture and economy, and the ways that people and places become things in our internal seeking to feel safe or to reconcile some deficit or disparity or dissonance. I do not like it when people love me for what I offer to them, and say that they love me – because if they loved me, they would leave me alone and not want me to be any way other than who I am when I am most myself, which is here, in writing and in art. The voice that I use to speak to the people in my life about who I am and all the daily trifles and arrangements, apportionments of energy and attention, the things and people external to oneself that need what they call love, but what might actually be closer to egoic demands for attention, validation, and connection. I have no problem loving people, and am happy to give love freely when my heart is nurtured and healthy, but if my heart is not nurtured and if a relationship actually causes damage to my heart in the form of stressful shenanigans of communication and things like food and going places and having conversations that are interesting and enjoyable to all parties…or wounded by people being dicks and actually not seeing me at all, and only seeing some mysogynist charicature of who I am based on some garbage that happened with their mother or their ex-girlfriend, and expecting me to just be what they want me to be, and scorning me when I can’t or won’t. Then, additionally shaming me because I get upset when someone is man-splaining me to myself and totally invalidating whatever it is I am telling him is my own motherfucking experience, and saying some bullshit like what I understand in that moment to be true of what I am experiencing – based in my own observation of what I am thinking and feeling and the images and sensations that are occuring in my body and conscious mind, which gets flooded with amplified trauma detritus files when dudes talk to me and look at me in certain ways that – let’s face it – are fucked up.
Unlearn the way they taught you to hold your face, dude. Unlearn your face, if you’re so smart. At least respect what I’m saying when I say that your smug smirk and flinty eyes and set jaw freak me out, because you are already invalidating whatever I might say before I even say it, so why say anything other than Fuck You.
This is what I know of friendship:
A true to friend to me is someone who recognizes me for both my strengths and limitations and understands that I am a person for whom the normative experience of being a human being in America has typically eluded me, in that I have no fucking idea what it is like to not think the way I do or remember the way I do or speak the way I do in my most true voices, I have no idea what it is like to not have a visual memory and a visual processing style.
Haha – autocorrect just changed style to “farts.”
Anyway, the normative experience of being a female human in America has – unfortunately – not eluded me, in that I have basically been seriously fucked up by the way that my physical body has been made into this thing that has to be a certain way in order not to be scorned or ridiculed or shamed, and that the person I am is a being that should primarily exist for the satisfaction and service of others which while this may not be true philosophically, on the basis of how utterly fucked up and dehumanizing (somehow I kept saying de-hymenizing, which is funny because just today I was thinking about how completely disgusting it was that my young male psychiatrist shitbag that I had only just met during an extremely traumatic conversation with my parents who were leaving me at the fucking hospital after this asshole asks me all kinds of personal questions about smoking weed (which at 13 I had never done) and having sex (which I also had never done), but which he accused me of, and then proceeds to do a vaginal exam which my impression was solely for the purpose of determining that I was lying about not having lost my virginity yet, and then acting smugly surprised when he learned, by putting his fingers into my vagina, that my hymen was intact.
Despite all my compassion and understanding of the ways people get fucked up in this culture and this economy, I seriously want to punch that smug look off that motherfucker’s face.
The reason I was thinking about that guy, who I believe is still in practice, if he hasn’t died in the past couple of years, is cause I need to request that he write me a letter regarding my treatment with him throughout my adolescence, from ages 13-17, which includes two hospitalizations at the now defunct due to Medicaid fraud and other disgustingness involving the unlawful hospitalization of elderly people and kids with problems because they’d been through some awful shit in their families or towns, all to be diagnosed as having a mental illness, a chemical imbalance.
I know my records do not exist, due to the dissolution of Charter Hospitals as an entity, and the fact that the receptionist at Dr. Martelli’s office told me they are no longer available. I have written about that conversation somewhere.
I need to call him and ask him to write me a letter to try to flesh out my mental health history for the possibility that I may need to apply for disability, depending on what happens over the next year or so, and whether or not my perimenopausal process and the imminent death of my mother while my children are in the process of leaving the home we’ve shared, signalling the end of an era that has been extremely difficult and beautiful and fucked up, like most families.
I have had an amazing day. I called out sick to work and spent the whole day writing and thinking about ideas. I added some to a drawing I had done the day after Lisa Montgomery was executed and felt good about revisiting this image. I considered last words and the significance of them, and wanted to study all of the last words of people killed by the state, wondered what art exists of those utterances.
Driving to pick up her daughter, little dog in the back seat and on time so far, she considered the conversation she’d had with her mother on speaker phone while she brushed her hair. “I feel better, had the nicest day. I just wrote all day and thought about ideas and spent time with the dog.”
There was a walk-with to the corner and back. Training sits at the edges of streets, hurry-hurry at the crossing. When the little dog pulls, she stops. He is learning to sit patiently, and likes the pauses, the time to look around.
“I want to talk to dad about Meck. I am curious about that, and want to hear more about him. That whole part of the family.”
I can tell I am getting tired because my writing is lagging and undetailed. The bigger sense around the subjects shown is muted. There is no mentioned of the internal questions that rise around my great-grandfather, who he was, why he was nervous, what that meant and what happened to him.
“Also,” I mentioned, “I was trying to find information about Judge Beck’s role in the dedication of the Monument to the Confederacy at Stone Mountain, and I found in a newsletter archived by the Sons of Confederate Veterans that he – Judge Marcus Wayland Beck was a primary speaker at the event and that he – my great great-grandfather – accepted the monument to the confederacy at Stone Mountain, Georgia on behalf of the South, and that – well, that is interesting to me.”
She walked into her room, laid her brush down. “There is an organization called ——— that is working with communities to take down these monuments, and well…”
Her mother shifted into the detached conversational tone of politic-talk. I think they just just take down the signs and put a new sign that says “Never Again,” and just all keep working toward…”
She can’t remember the phrasing of her mother’s watery wish for equality, for unity.
“I cannot say anything about,” she found herself saying. “I have no idea how it feels to be a person who is the descendant of slaves, whose ancestors were brought here as enslaved people and to see a monument to the structures and systems that has harmed their families for generations right there in the middle of the town I am trying to call home. I don’t know how that feels and so I can only say that I can imagine that I wouldn’t much like it.”
“I mean,” she continued as she pulled a pair of socks with deer who had flowers in their antlers standing amongst trees, a bright blue background. Perfect socks for Earth Day and the day she’d had considering who she was and what she needed to do to take care of herself.
“That monument is a blasphemy in stone,” she felt a thought rise as she left the house, and drove north to pick up her daughter. Her great-great Uncle Marcus, the Judge’s son would agree, and she felt something like his dark-eyed spirit flood quietly into her, smiled to feel him close, and understood that this idea was a part of what she needed to do to take care of herself, which was to make some acknowledgement that though her family, the blood that made her blood, were good people, wise people, they were a part of something treacherous and ugly, and that needs to be spoken and – more more importantly – that fucking monument must be returned to the stone that it was, though it will never be that stone again, because that stone took thousands – millions – of years to carve as it was and will never be again, carved in tribute to brutal lunacy of America and the lust for property, the lust for power, the lust for pride and a personhood above other persons, the idiocy of the trick that had been played on the poor men and sons who died in the Confederacy fighting for the rights of so-called white property holders to continue their supremacy not only above the African people and the indigenous masses on colonized lands, but their supremacy over the worker and the farmer, the poor sons and daughters of immigrants who themselves had fled. The masses, the masses, the masses. The insidious tricks and lies that had been told about the chance to rise above someone, to have your own place, a fence, a pantry, land to work, safety and belonging. The myth of the American Good Life, dangled like candy as an enticement to turn from injustice and support a system of economy that only works for a select few, and was designed as such, while the masses do the work, all the drudgery of production and consumption in a supply chain of enforced dependency and debt.
God, America is a crying, bloody Shame.
In some hearts, shame becomes hatred.
Trygve Gulbrannson Beyond Sing the Woods
The original quote says that in some “mean hearts, shame becomes hatred.”
There may be mean hearts.
Some places make mean hearts.
America makes mean hearts…and so many other sorts of hearts…brave hearts and wild hearts and sad hearts and broken hearts…and joyous hearts, too.
It’s possible that joy is not made, but simply allowed for in the spaces between fear and anger and grief, the lifting awe of looking around at the world, of being alive.
I want to write an email to ——— and share an idea to ———- by ———— a ———— (haha, don’t worry, surveil, it’s just a survey. 😂🤦🏻♀️)
If it were up to me, I’d sandblast the motherfucker back to smooth stone, and do nothing else. Let it be an erasure, and then leave it alone, let the water flow down it in rains and the sun beat down all summer. Let tiny pools form between the latticework of stone, to freeze and refreeze, small particles lifted away like dust year after year, knowing that nobody alive today will see the stone face that once held a monument to the confederacy be anything other than a sanded smooth surface, with – perhaps – a small engraving at its base that simply reads NEVER AGAIN.
If it were up to me, that’s what I would have done to the monument accepted on behalf of the South by my great-great grandfather, Judge Marcus W. Beck, father of his namesake son, the bright eyed boy who died trying to make his father proud in a grueling made-up world of races and wars.
I’d have the monument sand-blasted.
In between the bracken and the stream, under rocks and water-slick stones, there is a poem about what happened the year the willow tree fell and the cherry tree died and my mother was diagnosed with cancer.
In whispers it came, a hush and slow-spread
not wriggling or slithering, or crashing
just drifting, hanging in the air, caught in the pearls of breath
sparkling over everything we sigh about
replicating in the darkest creases
deep in our heads and chests
just a few days left in winter
as the news turned to silent city streets
ships made into hospitals
close down the schools,
we have to learn this now.
as rains poured down the runnel streams
the folding of the mountains, fog gathering
the ghosts of the girdled giants
the echo of their fallings in the forest
no more coffin wood, big bright spaces where once there was shade
and the animals all scurried,
digging in the leaves
forget the leaves, their hunger said,
Now we are learning this
In the summer, grass grows
up through the pavement
empty school lot
There is no going back
To the world we knew
though the spring will come
again and again
and the small shoots of new growth will push up through the soil
made of the dust
that was once a mighty American Chestnut, small trees
not yet girdled by blight,
growing, seeking the light
because that is all there is to do
until you die.
Now we are learning this.