When I was a child, in England, in the North, there was still fireweed growing among the scattered bricks of empty lots. Fireweed is often the first plant to grow after a fire or bombing. It is the scab that covers the wound, a filling in of the holes in the earth, where "death came in like thunder." It grows, too, in the Pacific Northwest, on scarred hillsides where fire has taken down the trees, leaving behind the charred skeletons of what was once magnificent.
The fireweed was a reminder. Even in the 1960s, it had been less than two decades since the countryside had been ravaged by German bombs. In many places, all evidence that the war had ever happened had been erased, but in the neglected North, the barren urban land, incapable of growing anything else, had covered itself with fireweed as a cloak against its hideousness.
I search for refuge from all of this. Perhaps I'm not entitled to refuge. After all, the bombs are not falling on my children, they are not destroying my homes, I am not of a people that another people has set out to eradicate from the face of the earth, so really, what the fuck am I getting all upset about? It is my own narcissism that tries to claim that the suffering all around me, that is around me but is not touching me, can justify my own helplessness and rage of the past, god, I don't even know how long anymore.
But I know this. The images of the past several years have torn craters into my memories, created sores that are inhabited by dead children, and bombed-out buildings, and by images of madmen and women who hasten us toward our doom. I have been walking around the past few days so sick to my stomach that eating has been a struggle. I come to various blogsites for refuge, to find camaraderie within a community, and what I find, again, and again, and again are people who want to throw bombs at one another, who seem to have no qualms about stating unequivocally that one position is right and the other is wrong.
I have always been frightened of fundamentalism. When one decides that one set of words is more important than any other set, that one does not have to listen to the words of another because that other language is wrong, well, all is lost.
When language fails us, what do we have left? Dead children. That's what we have left. Dead children and fireweed.