Startled Mirror

Once I was a child I looked upon the world as an eyeflash of hope – shatters of stars thrown across the night sky, I said to myself that that is where I will be someday.

that is where I’ll be someday

And that I wondered about those stars, and wrote on papers, multiplying my age by tens and wondering where I would be at each point, who would I be? who would I love? who would love me? and I wondered if I would be rich? well-liked? Poor? Scorned?

I had no fears. I loved the world, even when I felt they did not love me back.

But then the first of those decades struck me – a strange ruffling wind tossing me over the sea under a night sky born anew and still there was hope because hope had yet to be born, writhing in its placenta, rueing a fierce-eyed tenacious grip, clinging to a vestige of what I felt to be the right path.

However, that path was but illusion. I walked it fearlessly, regardless of destiny. I had youth on my side, and in youth there are days to burn like tinder, one twig after another until the pile becomes depleted and we scrounge for more to keep the fire burning.

And then the people came, because I had never noticed them before. They had faces that all looked alike, as they do now, not any of significance, but rejoicing in their commonality, the pale fish-eyed thin-lipped galley slaves rowing to the rhythm of commerce, to each wanting the glimmering sheaf of light on the other shore, the other shore not their freedom, or their salvation, but what they can own, what they can have, driving picket fences into the earth to shut others out and bloat flatulently under rich fruit trees regarded itself as a bounty of the earth, and not the property of a tenant. And the ripe fruit drops and decays into the earth.

The dreams of the child become the dashed hope of the ogre-spector of adulthood. Eyes are grim, skin turns to gray, wrinkles crease a riverbed of woes across the astonished face and others, and even others still, use that frightened disbelief as another peg for commerce. Ah! With those fears, like many others, I can capitalize on vanity, insecurity and old age. I eat greed with my lust, eat lust with my greed. On Sundays I pray to be a better person, so that I can step back into the poisoned river and begin my workweek anew.

The child that wondered stands at the precipe of decades later, astonished still at his reflection, that of the startled mirror unmitigating in its refusal to reflect what we want to see. We have allowed ourselves to become slaves to numbers.

Age is our whipping post.

It has become the monster at the end of our youthful dreams. The Hegira from child to adult is but a trail of glass-shattered tears.

He turns. Lights off. Dreams no longer a melodious cargo, but an embargo on our past, taxed and regulated for the blank-face masses. We drag our feet to the grave and stand looking down into an open stinking pit. The moneymakers are waiting to push you in and take more. We have allowed ourselves to be vessels for others to capitalize on, from the individual to that Hydra called government.

Astonished we have no other recourse but to step in.

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