Flooded in Endless Circles
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I listen to a song by Cat Power about a boxer, called “The Greatest.” The woman singing is named Chan, which was the name of a jaguar in Belize I once loved and mourned his killing by poachers for years, until I stopped dreaming of revenge.
The singer sings:
Once, I wanted to be, the greatest
. . . and I listen, wounded to the bone, adding my own second line:
Once, yes, I wanted to be the greatest,
And now I just want to be me
Because I am stuck on a ride I cannot quit, pursuing hopeless quests, stupid dreams I have carried for too long in my pocket, and my sister waits in Oregon to see me while I am scheming. To her I am already the greatest, never mind my plans, because I keep dreaming.
My sister Nicole translates Spanish for the courts. In a hospital to talk for a man who lost his arm cutting meat or canning beans, she hears about a little girl who is **** and abandoned. Her mother disappeared three days ago. The mother might just be working a field nearby, and will come back, but something makes Nicole walk to the fifth floor to check. At the nurses station, she is told: “Oh, that little girl’s not all there, hasn’t spoken for three days, just sits there and stares.”
What does a child do but wield silence when there is nobody to cry to?
Nicole sees the babe in pigtails, and sits and smiles. And the girl stares, vacant, terrified of another concerned face, but this one suddenly talks in a dialect from Oaxaca, the green hills the child carries in her bones, and Nicole sings a song for little girls from Mexico and three days of hope spills from the body of this silent cherub, ignored because of fright, and in ten minutes Nicole is playing patty-cakes with her, the Mexican version, and they are singing, and Nicole’s neck bristles like a jaguar’s sensing hunters: she turns to see four nurses in the doorway, watching in astonishment. They have been worried more than they will allow, and now two nurses smile and two nurses swallow sobs.
Nicole storms from the hospital, or maybe she sits in its stairwell and has her own crisis, I forget, but she tells me the story later as a professional who cannot quite remember that you are supposed to forget the maims and bleeds of an accident.
My sister’s face is scarred with the lines of this carnival ride. Small circles of pain, but endlessly repeating to become the deep cuts of personality, and she often sees people stuck on the ride, in endlessly repeated moments of lonely fright.
Whether we are the greatest, or stuck in a spin, somebody watches in admiration or worry, stitched in alarm.
Maybe a dream never dies, but the scars on the faces of the people I love testify that sometimes they wound deeply. Maybe this is why I no longer look in mirrors, except at the fair, where my dreams are twisted into harmless fun, jokes to toss up like confetti.
Also by seanie blue
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