In the Metropolitan Wilderness
It Will Not Always Be So
©1972, 1999 richard chilton

richard chilton


It is no mere reason
A greywhite blue, and yellow-plumag'd
Bird parakeets about

Across in Houstontown, 
They're talkin' the stratification
            of pontification;
In the midwest cities
Of the northeast, San Francisco, and
            the prairie country
They observe the 153 b of Susan B. Anthony
Carl Sandburg
(the rape of a local investigation 
sanctifies the presence of Washingtonians) 
While a Wornen's Day Internationale
            is readied
By the October Revolution, and the
Slap-happy remnants of Mann's Space Flight Center
descend upon the nation's
            NOW center.

Meanwhile in New Orleans the Ides of March
Slip through a Mardi Gras mask, and in 
Orangeburg the National Guard has declared
           the basketball game 
           snow'd me

(Now George Oliver Twurp lands on his shoulder,
and insists on pecking at this unshaven)

How the symphony is written, 
How the brick house is mortared
How the grains are cut, the seeds sow'd1 
How the waters replenish the earth
           in yearout season
How the birth of children sustains you
How the death of children undo you,
How the approaching lover intrigues you,
How the departing lover becries you,
How the comforting friend,
          he laughs with you,

How the disturbing friend troubles you
How the acquaintance renews you,
How the acquaintance threatens you,
How the stranger beckons you,
How the stranger frightens you

How resistance and contemplation
Of each these, our daily lives,
The mark of a highly learned man
Hark!  A lowly shepherd
Dressed in linen and womanly peasantry.

(Mr.Twurp delivered to me a message address'd to you. 
I haven't read it, though Mr. Twurp and i have a relationship quite unique among birds of these parts, and would share confidences in a minute were it not our various, inward selves)

It was his presence that still astounded him.  Born of a hearty stock years ago in the backcountry of the Alleghenies he walked the manner of a patriot, that long-standing myth of the Americas which fed the country's early life.  No two people did he ever approach the same indeed his spirit, his recklessness, his intensity and his politeness overshadowing, and almost too colonialist it seemed, as if stepping from another era to an alien, foreign shore he struck the casual man.

"Good day, my fellow traveler.  And the evening was kind to you, no?"

"As best as could be expected.  Meeting with R is always kind of a wretched experience.  The man is so alone, isolated from the past, uncertain for the future, going frantically about crying for misinformation.  He offered as usual a drink and we settled to discuss the meaning to him of his daily affairs, skirting as possible all mention of our people, nor even of the dignitaries from across the seas whom he acquaints himself musingly, never understanding them, always mistrusting them.  God, he is a pathetic figure:"

"But of what did he speak? What interpretations did he lay upon the shoulders of the world?"

"Trudeau, you perhaps know better than I.  I am but the man whom he consults in this manner; but you, I speak to you as he does with me, confiding the most trivial in the trust something will be revealed, focusing, grappling a trend perhaps, harboring a theme by which to unravel the lives of so rnany.  0 must we always consolidate power in the hands of so few men?"

"Though I might concur with you," responding to his colleague's disgust, "continuing in this manner will only discredit your doubts all the more as to retaining your professionalism and detachment from the case."

That is the point John, I can no longer place myself in this position, which is why I asked you here this evening."  I want you to take over; I am no longer fit for the outpouring of the man's personal fears and hatreds.  You are the only person, even more than I, whom he would possibly approach in this matter.  I am finish'd John, broken, annihilated, destroyed as he has destroyed all the others."

Trudeau backed away to the window and gazed out over the rolling Virginia countryside.  Toying the glass and the half-consumed liqueur in his hand while noting the despair in his companion's shaken voice, troubled in his own mind as to whether in his own mind he could persevere the fate now thrust upon him he breathed heavily, feeling the air scourge deep inside his chest as he spoke, "Yes, my dear friend, I understand and accept."

         Over the countryside in the grip of winter 
As with the wind, or forest shadow
Through the light of the timber cast .
ln frozen statues the villagers congregate.

         In the metropolitan wilderness,

Overlooking the rustic marketplace there gathered a convocation of various persuasions and personalities who spoke with their smile a joyous pleasure in reunion.  One could view them in the upper floors from across the square at earlyday.  Their conversations were animated with gestures of laughter and poignancy like mannikins from a drug store window portray'd on the cinema street.'

But inside the room itself there poked a sorrow underscored by the music maybe, hidden within the eyes of a streetcleaner working in this chill of morning, over and over again the work of loneliness.  His hand tore to the asphalt, evoking a cackling, gnawing sound to the ears and comments of those still at the party, lurking this or that reason the cause or basis behind the government's failure to automate his labour (it was the pre-world war era, you see, and the makings of social upheaval were to their minds deposed for the evening).

I am a Vietnamese child, a man whose horror at the face of war nursed on the fine milk of the international press and the wretched knowledge of suffering women.  And your face is too rich with color and soft as the sailing of fowl to the south in autumn to cradle anguish in your eyes over the death of our young'.

            It will not always be so.

 

 


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