An Acorn (third canto)

Photographer: Jaisey Bates

by Caridad Svich

 

4 AM. I am getting up earlier and earlier. Even on weekends. I am resisting the temptation to sleep. I have this theory that if I stay awake long enough I’ll be able to witness everything

 

I don’t want to see any of it, any of that ‘thing”

But if we don’t watch, if we just ignore whatever is happening, how will we know what to say?

 

The last time we just turned things off, we allowed them to happen, we gave it permission, we said those guys were idiots, and even though they were cynical, hypocritical idiots, we paid them no real mind, and look what happened

 

Our neighbors came back from the desert with fire in their eyes

And some of them, some of them never came back

 

I don’t want what happened then (to happen now), because I’m still angry, at all of them, all of the cynical idiots, I’m still angry at the known unknowns, even though, yes, yes, that was a long time ago (they say), and we have to move on because what else can we do? We can’t STAY angry at them

 

 

Some of them are old, some of them have faded into the recesses of their ranch houses with their families, we can’t drag ALL THAT out again, because the world has changed, and well, yes, what happened then was instrumental to what’s happening now, but…

 

We can’t do anything about it. Not about then. Because ALL THAT is over

But this, this… we can speak to this, if we stay awake

 

 

I don’t want to say anything. The acorn trembles in my hand

I’m carrying it with me now. I took it out of the drawer

I couldn’t bear the thought of it being next to the knives

There’s been enough violence

 

I am thinking about moving away. Just for a while

Pack up all of the crappy sentiment and head to the woods

Live with nothing. Just air, trees and a small fire

 

 

What you have to remember, do you remember (?), is that we protested then, back when ALL THAT happened, ten-odd years ago, we stood around the world

 

We stood around the world once

In the rainy city

It was called the Battle of the City of Rain

Do you remember?

 

You said they were the most important days of our lives

 

 

Our memories fail us

Our rage subsides

We stand and stand

And then store our photographs in a file

 

Sometimes we remember the file is there

And we wonder who we were then

 

 

6 AM. Tea and honey. Tea and bread. Letting go of old habits. The coffee grounds are in the wastebasket. We’ve had enough acidity in our stomachs to last us a few centuries. We are trying to slow down

 

I hope that our anger does not become a commodity

 

A kind of unease sets in. Different from the usual…

 

My friend says everything is a sales pitch, and maybe, maybe what we need to do now is actually not join the raging chorus of rage on all sides, but rather think about how things take time, how ALL THIS took time to manifest, and that there may be something in actually living in the long now

 

The clock stopped some years ago. The regular clock

 

A new clock was placed inside a mountain

 

In 10, 000 years maybe we will know how to really live, if there’s anyone left

 

 

I didn’t know anything about the woods

I just started walking

I wore the acorn around my neck

It was a Sunday

I swore to myself, in what seemed like an unending silence, that I would make something of this time that had made an abrupt nothing of our lives

 

Someone called. They knew I wasn’t speaking

They said: contact a doctor, ask for a remedy

 

But I already had

The doctor said there was nothing wrong with me

 

Your throat is fine. Your vocal chords are fine

 

The silence had something to do with my psyche

 

I made a raw sound

 

The doctor ignored me

The line of patients waiting was a mile long

 

Good day, they said

As they walked me out of the glass door

Into the cold sunshine

 

 

When I was twelve I told my people that I wanted to live on a glass beach

They laughed at me

They found me amusing

They said adolescence is such an interesting time

 

 

8 AM. I decide to write a letter to the ocean

I find paper, actual paper, and a pen

And start writing

 

 

Dear Ocean,

You’ve been through it all, what lessons can you teach us now?

 

I tuck the paper into the envelope and take the letter to the nearest post office

The person looks at me

I am dead serious

The envelope goes into a bin with all of the letters that will be sent the next morning

Good day, they said

As I walk out of the glass door

And into the city of concrete

 

 

Long ago we asked ourselves questions about our duties as citizens, we knew this meant my duty to you there, and you too, on the other side of the ocean, the questions were innocent at times and at others best left unsaid, but at least we asked, at least we understood that my duty extended beyond the foot of this bed into which you sleep with me at night

 

And yes, to you, there, unknown, standing in the maze of your city, walking through the belly of your country, a crust of bread on your tongue

 

In the heat of this moment, we rise

 

The elderly person watches their car set on fire, the windows to their store smashed

Who will pay for all of this? Who will pay?

 

You reach into your pocket for your fifteenth credit card, the clerk says they will wait, the clock ticks, your eyes meet, this one has to go through, because the others have been declined

 

I’d like to tell you a story about your need for stories

I’d like to tell you a story about why you think all things like this have to have plots

 

But then I see you looking at me

Just as you are doing now

A little hesitant, worried, perhaps a bit vulnerable

And I say

 

 

Hey, hey, give me your hand

It’s okay

 

Give me your hand

 

We can do this. We have done this before. Remember?

 

Maybe in some church

Maybe in school

Maybe at that party

 

We offered our hands to strangers

And said peace

 

 

Caridad Svich is a text-builder and theatre-maker. She received the 2012 OBIE for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, and is currently Visiting Research Fellow at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Her plays include JARMAN (all this maddening beauty) and The Hour of All Things published by Intellect Books Ltd. She is associate editor of Contemporary Theatre Review  for Routledge UK,  Visit her at www.caridadsvich.com 

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