Saturday, December 31, 2011


I am related to the crescent moon;
Scimitar like, at both ends a sharp point,
Birth and death in my case but for the clever moon metamorphosis.

Similarly the round, bulbous moon is my second cousin,
Once removed;
Not that she is aware of this lumbering her enormous white belly across the sky;
More relatives I am thinking;
Soon it will be the whole human race.

Certain men in coastal China look just like me;
Missioneries maybe or traders or even a Jesuit;
If we met we would throw arms around one another
And hug like lost brothers;
But this is unlikely as we lack bus fare to the next village.

My mother claims the old Highland Scots treacherous,
Alternately indolent and violent,
Fighters, lovers of death, planters of oats and semen;
Raiders, builders of stone huts,
Women with shoulders that shine in the dark, tiger eyes.
Some of me belongs to them although I don’t know which;
Punking off the nobs, coveting my neighbour’s wife maybe.

Fishermen’s children in Africa
Seesawing on the outriggers of their father’s canoe;
A man and his daughter in Malaysia,
Cracking jokes together, rising in a great crescendo of snorts and guffaws
And belly bendings. They are my cousins
As is the woman selling tamales in a market in provincial Mexico,
Part Indio, part Castile,
And the women, men, children who surround her,
Bustling, arguing;
They are my relatives too.

There are farmers in Chile who bend their elbows
Just like I do;
Shopkeepers in Cairo who share the line of my eyebrows exactly;
Miners in the Urals sniffing tea the way I sniff tea;
Carpenters in Poland stretching in the morning the way I stretch;
An Israeli wine merchant scratching his lower belly in exactly the place I scratch;
And so on.

Five billion human beings; All relatives for goodness sakes; It’s ridiculous.
And then there are the animals and rocks and the vegetable world
And the great astronomical world of nuclear explosions and spun out galaxies,
The Great Immensity,
And somehow I am related to all that too.

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