Stability is greatly overrated. Why would I ever want to sit still and smug as a rock, confident, because of my great weight, that I will not be moved? Better to be soft as water, easily troubled, with at least three modes of being, able to shape- shift, to mirror, to cleanse, to drift downstream, To roar when I encounter the rock.
Study war no more
Mar 18, 2011
Michael Izbicki grew up in a nondenominational church in California. A National Merit Scholarship finalist, he chose to go to the U.S. Naval Academy out of a sense of duty to his country during a time of war. At the naval academy he began to doubt whether the career to which he had committed himself could be squared with the tenets of just war doctrine. He got in trouble when he responded no to this exam question: "If given the order, would you launch a missile carrying a nuclear warhead?" After a four-year legal battle, the navy discharged him as a conscientious objector. Izbicki may have to reimburse the service for part or all of his education (New York Times, February 22).
On the tollway just south of Kenosha spring sets the boarded-up porn store ablaze, topaz dousing the peeling paint, the harp-notes of ice on the gutters. On the embankment home geese gather in the mud-slush. Tractors lift their beams to the rising temple of a new overpass.
I outlasted winter, four months rumpled under snow. On Christmas we woke to a broken furnace, the baby's fingers carrot-stick cold. One night I skidded off the patio steps. Most mornings I stared out the window, wondering how far I'd driven my life in the ground, asking the darkness how much longer.
I kill the radio. Just the hum of the motor, the pitted road, my slow, steady breath like the syllables Yah, weh. I didn't work at this joy. It just appeared in the splash and shine of I-94, as suddenly as these Frisbees and sand buckets in the roadside yards laid bare by the shrinking snow.
"Alyosha stood at the crossroads under the streetlamp." Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
It's a place of darkness where a human will might do its best work, where kindness becomes flesh or deflates like a blow-up Santa come New Year's. It might be the snug, well-insulated house, green lawn groomed, minivan shining bright in the garage, abuse lurking in some airless bedroom corner. Or it might be the stinking deathbed, the anguished, desperate jail cell, where Alyosha blesses this brother's innocence or that one's best intentions, absorbing the worst the world wills him. Still he chooses to kiss the tortured Ivan and, if stories had a doorway, Ivan's Grand Inquisitor, too, for, in the end, it's freely given love the withered, aging lips long for. At this crossroads Jesus kneels before a cowering prostitute, her breasts bare. He sticks his finger in the dirt, sketches what shames them all but not her, no, judges not to shame her, says instead, "Go ahead, throw a stone, you men who have no sin." It's the place of darkness at crossroads everywhere, offering bewildered travelers light enough to glimpse the willing figure love makes or the long, shivering shadow of its retreat.
and we're off again with forehead freshly smeared and spirit seared anew by memories of dust, rumors of all or nothing up ahead. These frigid days and weeks lean inward, huddling for warmth, and disciplines attempt in vain to shape them toward value, meaning, promise. Warmth will, of course, return bearing its customary, temporary, blossoming. But all remains a stay of execution till the stone is rolled, those sentries flee, and startled women run with aching news.