Thursday, November 22, 2012

Like a fly on a computer screen

by Jen Hunt, from the archives

At birth we arrive in the midst of the scene, like a fly on a computer screen, not knowing how we got there or what went on before. It takes years to uncover the history leading up to our arrival. Like amateur archeologists we dig through layers of silt that go yards, even miles, beneath us, where silt has been accumulating for centuries. We look for bones and pottery shards which verify our independent slant on reality. Sometimes we like what we find. Sometimes we don't. But the digging is imperative.
A grandfather and grandmother, divorced when you were two, will seem to you at first like separate trees planted in different forests in eternity past. But then... a portrait here... a yellowed marriage certificate there... and conceptions shift. Suddenly your eyes move down those separate trees to find (no!) a single burled and knotted trunk. So you discover again or maybe for the first time we are born into a world of aging, hurtful people, who's quarter of phone time is nearly spent who sense they won't be able to say it all before the line dies.
A buttermilk marriage sat souring for thirty-five years before being spit out. Two generations behind me a fortress gate thundered shut while I sat laughing on a pony-ride lap. Silt muffled, then buried, the thunder. I arrived on the site thinking all is well, all is well.
Until I was handed a shovel.