No. 2
March 2005
Firefly Journal
Because the End Times Never End and Everything is Still Possible
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America, photograph by Kyle Rand
America, photograph by Kyle Rand, 2001

Estranha Forma de Vida / A Strange Form of Life

by Theresa Whitehill

I forget whose business it is to make sure that leaves
are translucent enough in the spring so that an avenue
of walnut breaks the heart of the moon just right, and you can
steep the leaves into a tisane which can be poured over the sleeping
widow, the winning chess player, the freshly sutured highway accident.
I don't know where this busybody got off to, this magician
with a capricious smile, but someone was supposed to
keep the water trickling with the sound of bells
and memories, and remind us to write somewhere into the book
that dogs possess the eyes of people we once loved, and that morning
is morning because of a great deal of light.
The leaves have been turning ahead of schedule, the fruit
going from green to rotten; there is smoke in the air. The evidence
is everywhere. There is something in our blood which will never
be finished. Enitre hillsides hemorrhage their load of wildflowers.
Forests coat the ridges in vivid wart-like growths. It isn't even
restricted to machines anymore. We can do anything. It is
everywhere. What a strange way to live, to come from such an intricate
fertility, able to synthesize sunlight and compose madrigals, and find
so many reasons to unwrap the package before it's even our birthday,
a dozen ways to vandalize the pantry. We are a byproduct, a sleeping god's
daydream, a god who got up, apparently, and moved on.
What a strange way to be left. No wonder the edges of things
are fuzzy–sex, grief–we were never meant to come to completion, or dance
to the end of the seven veils. Mystery is our only ally, and as solace,
we have violence: a misapprehension of the void. It explains why the soul
is always thirsty, why we have sacred fools who wander the earth, why
we think that age brings patience, when we are not nearly
impatient enough. A sweetness perhaps, the almost
bidden scent of summer grasses stricken with beauty. Those
who think we still inhabit a dimensional world imagine they can simply
wrap it all up again, pretend to be surprised, forbid stem cell
research, use the bludgeon of regret, the Puritan tools
of hard pleasance. But where we stand in the river
it is not very deep. We can wade out further, where the water
is green and lovely. We can walk a ways along the bank
until we remember other things: that snakes
are always surprising, that there is a homeopathic
form of sin on the tooth of the rattler, that we die
and that we live, every day, not just once. Yet there is only one
time, or if not, it has hardly mattered.

Painting by Paulo Ferreira
Africa, painting by Paulo Ferreira