The Things My Grandmother Taught Me with Her Eyes
There is no man. There is no woman.
We are each a soul housed in temperate flesh
With varying thresholds of anguish, desire,
Love, intelligence, and hate. Gender is mortal.
The heat in your breast is girdled by the same impermanence.
I am not woman, nor am I man. Ages have passed
And I have marked each one with a glance
Before it lowers itself to a poorly-dug grave.
A man or woman might define your body,
But you are not corporal. Others see dust
While I see you composed of two lovers’
Words are not enough balm for a broken spirit.
The first tear of loss against the frail human heart
Should be fixed with a warm caress on the upper back
And the allowance of grief,
For death leaves behind more than a body.
Always end a meal with a dessert
Primarily made with butter and sugar.
This shall be the gluttonous reminder
Of our temporary human state.
Love—with a taste like burnt sugar—
Veneers our hopes with immortality.
Death-beds come often before
Our dearest ambition is fulfilled.
Do not linger over my prostrate form
But reminisce briefly on the lessons my tread
Has writ across your conscience.
Time will eat all of me
Save this intangible soul.
Set-list, Track 7
Disaffected youths—caught in the prime of their refractory condition—clogging the corridors of ticket offices and stalking the doors of radio stations. A motley mess of could ofs, should haves, would nevers. Traveling to pay homage in the flesh, feeling disconnected from the physical through the scratching of vinyl, seeking absolution at nomadic meccas. Concert venues littered, swept, littered again. Debris mounds (aluminum cans, ticket stubs, half-burnt cigarettes) collect in the empty space once filled by the devoted. Losing sentient-self in the melody. Syncopation overriding.
Disregard societal lamentations of mediocracy; diatribes of the overly zealous; jingoism; atheism; conservativism (subsume all the –isms). Radicalism ain’t nothing like this freedom. Mom and pop’s programming will tell them ‘you shouldn’t listen.’ This music belongs to the devil. It breeds sin. Ensnaring the unsuspecting? Maybe. But those critics don’t understand transcendence.
Rock is the amalgam. Rock is the derivative of injustice. Rock is the confidant of lasciviousness. Rock raises the question. Roll answers.
Women coming apart, tearing off clothes like generations of sexual frustration. A march for autonomy. Heating the beds of their gods in rotation. Shirtless men in skintight leather pants, hair unkempt (perpetual dismissal of war), sweat rolling like blood over pasty skin as they clutch that guitar, drumstick, microphone stand, all screaming. All breaking off bits of themselves, throwing it out into the crowds, beckoning those listeners closer. Closer, and you’ll find the meaning. Closer, and it’ll all fall away to truth. Closer and nothing can control you but you.
The loudspeaker mantra echoes with innocuous lyrics. Know the devil. Know yourself. Know how to make love to a woman, to a man. Extract yourselves from the discourse. This moment is gifted with beauty. Finite. Fleeting.
Two birds coo to each other in a private language of chirping. The crow joins in, perched on a precarious branch. That crow brings the dissonance. Voicing the outrage. Offering a third option. Every moment smelling of dirt and death. The natural world decomposing in an intoxicating vibrancy. Cool breezes rolling down hills. The air chapping lips.
Glossy magazines enhance the seduction. Temptation at the supermarket check-out lane. The immobile face doesn’t speak. Lethargic eyes entrance the bystander. Hearts palpitate with repressed need. Buying milk gallons and white bread.
Momma says tomorrow is another day (learned it from a movie). The kids know there exists only today. They aren’t afraid of trips. Bad, good, the in-betweens. They just need to get away. Escape into the dimensions of now. Savor the taste of distilled manipulation. They follow that crow into a kaleidoscope of possibility.
It’ll never last. Every word, every note just an empty promise.
The kids have been led astray. They mass themselves into a combustive orgy. A bacchanalia, celebrating their generational gods.
Swelling in ‘69. An abrupt climax. Summer heat persisting. The crow beseeching. Kids following the voice. Cars and trains (airplane isn’t the way of the kids) tattooing the landscape. Beacon flaring in the West. Kids following the illuminated promise. A deserted plain welcoming. Hoards present for the worship of booze, sex, drugs.
Convergence of bodies. Sweat, tears, piss, everything mixing into a cocktail of the corporeal. This arm belongs to three people. This mouth shared between two. Hand on hand on hand. Legs intertwined. Monolith of intersections. Periscope vision concentrating on the band. Crows flocking. Surrounding. Herding the mass in tighter.
Go climb into the trees. Air circulating around you. Motion is your brother, sister, closest companion. The bark is rough against your palm; scratches etch into your ephemeral flesh. Ah, a reminder of the present condition. The voice caresses you. Your cheek, shoulder, over-washing your soul. Instruments instructing your movements. Lost in the trees. Lost in nature with amplifier gods. A crow lands on the branch before you. It all adds up.
Speakers reverberating: Crushed under my thumb. Yeah, under my thumb.
Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, to a charismatic salesman and a stay-at-home mom, Celia Rudd learned early on how to handle her eccentric Southern family. She studied English Literature at the University of Alabama and minored in geography while there. She was lucky enough to study abroad at Worcester College, Oxford University. An avid traveler, her experiences in new places and the people she runs into on the way inspire her sporadic attempts at writing. Celia is the Non-Fiction Editor of the University of Alabama’s Dewpoint literary magazine.