Strangers. One, to the other. “I love the guy who paid my debt.” “You wha?” “I love the guy who paid my debt.” “You love the guy who paid your debt?” “Yes?” “Okay.” Cars whoosh. Tires tread. Engines combust. “I want to introduce you to the guy who paid my debt.” “You what?” “I want to introduce you go the guy who paid my debt.” “Okay.” “He’s right here.” The woman held out her open palm. The other looked at her empty hand. “He lives here.” Her eyes pointing to her hand. “He’s my friend. I want him to be your friend.” “Um.” Cars whoosh. Tires tread. Engines Combust. “You have debt, too, you know?” “What?” “You have debt, too. I have the bill right here.” In her other hand, she holds a line-itemed bill with a number in the billions. It’s addressed to “everyone, anywhere, at any time.” “I don’t owe anything.” “Yes you do.” “No I don’t.” “It says it right here.” “What is the bill for?” “Our ancestors ate a meal. They didn’t pay. With interest, inflation and tax, you must pay this bill.” “No. No, I don’t.” “Yes, you do. It says right here. You must pay, too.” “Who is billing for this debt?” “My friend who paid the debt.” Cars whoosh. Tires tread. Engines combust.
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
I think I’ve posted this poem before, but I’m going to post it again (below). One of my favorite poems is “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost. Recently, I discovered I was de-friended on facebook by a blood uncle whom I’ve never met. In case you don’t know, I’m adopted. I’m friends with some of my biological family on facebook.
I think I offended my uncle by responding to a load of rants he made against people who vote democrat. He pretty much said anyone who votes democrat is unpatriotic. Whoever voted for Obama is contributing to this country’s demise.
What a load of shit. Different people love this country differently. Democrats don’t hate America. They have an ideal that differs from republicans. Otherwise, both sides (and everything in between) loves this country.
Anyway, I emailed him to say, “Hey what’s up?” and “I hope you’re well.” He wrote back that we needed to mend our wall.
Mend our wall? I wasn’t aware a wall had been built. And if there is a wall, I didn’t want it there in the first place.
The point of the mending wall is that the writer discovered how unnecessary the wall was, and he wants to do what is naturally taking place, remove the wall.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, says the poem.
In the poem, there are two men, one on each side of the wall, replacing stones that had fallen over time. The narrator questions what the two men are walling in or walling out. It is, in fact, almost barbaric to build a wall where none is required.
The reason there is a wall has been forgotten. “Good fences make good neighbors,” says the other man in the poem. He only wants it, but he can’t remember why. Tradition is like that. Tradition sometimes needs to be removed.
The incident with my uncle made me appreciate my family … my real family. I may be adopted, but I am a blood Witteveen. Despite my differences of opinion, differences of views, I am a Witteveen, and I’m proud of it.
Despite “coming out” atheist, they built no walls. In fact, if there were walls in place, they helped me tear them down. And for that, I am astounded, grateful and elated.
Here’s the poem. Read it aloud to your loved one(s) when you get a chance. It is gorgeous.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors’.
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it
Where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”