Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Bigger Lesson

I'm thinking this morning that there's an even bigger lesson that we're supposed to be learning than the one about our puny government and its failures, Bush. It was that old literary lion Kurt Vonnegut who brought it to mind last night, when I saw him on the Daily Show: that this great Earth, perhaps, in her wisdom, is simply trying to rid herself of her most tiresome species: ourselves. She has done it before, with others, as we know.

And we have not been kind to her, Bush, these past couple of hundred years. We have forgotten to pay her the respect she's due and, worse, have abused and exploited her for all we're worth. We have been no kinder to ourselves, of course, not to each other, but that's not the point right here. The point is, she has kept trying to warn us in a variety of ways, like a tired old irritated mother, and we have ignored her warnings.

So the bigger question is this: has she finally given up on us? Has she decided, understandably, in her own best interests, that it's time for us to go? She does work slowly. It might take a couple of hundred years--depending on how badly we behave. But she will do it, if she has to. So maybe this is the lesson we should be listening to. It's time to start making amends, perhaps. Time to start paying some respect, as our ancestors once did: to them, even stones and trees were grandfathers. So...


Four a.m. Woken
by the sound of thunder.
Thought at first it was freight cars
colliding, down in the valley, as they sometimes do.
Then it grew, the sound exploding out in waves
through rolling banks of cloud, and tapering
way off into the distance. Then lightning,
more thunder. And finally the rain. Months
since the last one. Even here,
in the city, you feel the earth
drink it in. Watch your body: it, too,
drinks the rain. It wakens. Ten minutes,
maybe twenty, and the storm is over,
skulking off east toward the desert.
Just one of nature's tantrums, then. I think, though,
of Katrina, that Fury
that left thousands dead and tens of thousands
scurrying for safety in her wake; shattered
whole streets and cities into the ruined shards
of mankind's most intimate structures: homes.
Now, at five, a light rain persists.
Lucky, when you think of it, here
in Los Angeles. Just a hiccup, really.
Who knows, though, what nature has got
waiting for us in her belly? One day,
when she chooses, she'll let go.

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