Sunday, 1 May 2011

Mayday, Mayday...


Beltane was last night. At least one group of people in the valley I inhabit gathered together and lit a fire for it. To ancient cultures, it marked the first day of summer, and it was said the Otherworld was closest on that night.

I didn’t gather with the people nor did I have a fire. Instead, I stayed home and played records while Charlie sat on the floor applying newsprint to her canvases. The theme of my mix was something along the lines of not having anything to lose anymore. The Great Fall is already happening. I thought about my writing. Everything I wrote before has been like flowers; beautiful alpine flowers at the end of summer, their petals exposed to pollinators despite the impending cold of winter. “Come!” they seem to say, symbolically, with all their color, effusing chemicals to attract the bees and mosquitoes, the moths and the bears, the herbivores, all the living things that might help their kind survive and perhaps even flourish when the next cycle of sun arrives.

My words, though toned in a kind of melancholy, have always been expressions of what my eyes see, what my heart feels, what my body senses, and what my intellect knows to be true–none of us have to accept the a life of drudgery in Moloch’s gray factory. Nonetheless, most of us do.

Beyond the concrete walls, the sheer face of a hardened matrix of gray goo, yellow rump warblers sing, marsh marigolds spring up from the creek side, and fiddle heads ask to be played by our sensitive tongues. Animals make art. They represent themselves and the spirits they enfold by imprinting upon the mud, as poignant an expression as humans painting canvas or pounding drums. In my world of fiction, we all dance around flames and jump through the fire, naked. In doing so, our flesh gets licked. This is the world my characters inhabit and though mostly fictitious, I have experienced it in my own life a few times, and history itself bears this out as a common shared fact. I understand why we left Eden, but what perplexes me is: why haven’t we decided to go back?

We’re all tolerating the intolerable. Who told us we have no choice?

Now it is Mayday. I’m remembering Haymarket Square, I’m thinking about anarchist industrial workers who fought for an eight-hour workday instead of 16 or 12, a hundred and twenty five years ago, in Chicago, on this day. They achieved their aims, even though for their efforts four of their comrades were publicly hanged. Nobody knows. Nobody cares. History is boring and anarchists are thought to be kin to cannibals. But if not for them, North American children would still be laboring in sweatshops, and the workers of these states and Canada wouldn’t even have time to watch TV, let alone shop or make love once in a while.

Today, in a far out valley in southeastern B.C., my own community will parade around the village like their European ancestors did, this time in celebration of our pure wild unfiltered mountain drinking water and the effulgence of spring. I will be there, camera in hand, tequila in my back pocket, and a heart full of The People’s History for anybody who wants to hear about it.