Saturday, May 8, 2010

There are no voices, just the wind

The wind has come up out of the west carrying the continent with it, scouring and scrubbing the bruised and battered land, tearing away at the surface of the earth, the habitat of human animals. Some of my superstitious neighbors would call it a biblical wind, a chastisement, but I'm not like them, I don't believe in the wind. They believe there's a god out there somewhere, blowing spirit into matter, striding across the plains and bounding over the mountains, filled with wrath, coming to Sodom for to blow it away. New York City is their Sodom -- that's where The Other resides. They believe this god has been here before and done his purifying work before, but the work needs be done again, because we've backslid again, we frail human animals, into a sulfurous pit of wickedness, fiery and everlasting. They believe that there's an anima in us and that this god, who once loved us as a father might love his children, put it there, but now that he's seen how so many of us have corrupted it, he returns spewing ire, coming to destroy the corrupters, that the remnant might be saved. My neighbors lock their doors, they hang crosses on their walls, they light candles in their windows, they pray, then they sit there in the semi-dark, listening to the wind crash through the woods and down the mountain, carrying black fear into their hearts.

I shut all the lights in my house and watch the candles being lighted across the way, then in the cottage in back of me, then on the corner, and then in the big house one block down. I glimpse waves on the surface of the lake and hear the creaking of the dock. I hear branches crack and watch leaf clusters spinning through the air. I hear the gutter rattle and a garbage can lid clatter on concrete. It sounds like planes are trying to land. People are trying to get home. I'm not afraid. There is no god. Even so, the wind gathers strength. Flags get torn to shreds. They will not sleep tonight, my neighbors, sitting in their houses listening, watching their candles flicker, they're too awake, thinking about so many things, mostly the things that go on in Sodom. They're thinking about money and sex. Money making money. Sex begetting sex. And the violence and drunkenness that follows. They're thinking about the effin animals that prowl the streets of Sodom, the soulless ones, the thieves, the addicts, the gangs, they're thinking about crime and terrorism, about the killers they've seen on TV. These things scare them. They're scared of lightning and sharks and monster asteroids. And they're scared of this god they keep talking to, that he might truly look into their hearts and see the sinfulness there, and burn it out.

Not me. I'm okay with the void, the black, the night, and the wind because they don't signal sin. I'm a fool, I regret nothing. But I'm worried too, just not about Sodom. I'm worried about Asperger's Syndrome, getting along, paying attention, looking The Other in the eye, making connections. I'm worried about soft-tissue cancer, the kind that eats you alive, the kind that killed my mother and my uncle and my friend Christina. And I'm worried about getting Alzheimer's Disease, losing my mind, becoming a vegetable, lying in the anteroom of death with nobody around to treat me like a human. Tonight I'm worried about being alone, standing in the dark, listening to the wind, cut off from my neighbors, thinking about the abyss that awaits with no illusions to comfort me. I'm worried about the fragility of our life support systems. I'm wondering, how is it that we'll survive?

The wind is still roaring. Through the noise I hear a dog bark in alarm, then the sound of glass shatter. Their god has come in anger to take someone away. Who is it?

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