Alternate Histories: 10/15, 11/14

10/15/15

We’re maybe entering World War III. All the different hot spots of violence. Climate change changes environments, changes natural resources–it’s all connected.

*

11/14/15

The animals moved first, Z noticed: a red-bodied dragonfly clinging to his clothesline, nutria spotted in the river that divided the city, dead canvasback ducks at the midpoint of their migration when he drove out to pick up a secondhand desk. He pictured the soil under his feet crawling with bacterial motion, adaptation, life and death, migration, flight at a scale he could barely imagine. To them, all borders were open, all bodies were vehicles. He walked by the river and felt the wind splashing against his back, parting around him, pushed ahead of him, Z, the big thinker, the porous obstacle–the wind was changed by people and ducks and the surface of the dirty river, by temperatures of ice slowly shaling off thousands of miles away–that too changes the shape of the wind, the wind’s approach, the wind’s methods.

When at the COP21 convention in Paris participating nations agreed to the dissolution of borders, it was surprising how easily everyone adjusted to the idea, how little borders are felt in the body. Adjusting to the reality was harder: more people here, fewer there. Food, buildings and fields, no waiting, people streaming across, but how was “across” different now? On the other side of the river is the other side of the river. Maybe it’s a little higher or lower, but food was scarce everywhere. Places became “the place where the spiders come out of the ground” or “the place where we need to plug the leaking abandoned fuel tank” or “the place where the pileated woodpeckers used to nest” or “the place where Concepción and Beto were born, but it’s underwater now” or “the place where we’re borrowing the tools to dig the toilet for the Barzanis and the Ghaishes” or “the place where you leave the offerings.”

Near the foundations of the dismantled houses, next to the grave marker for the people who didn’t make it ashore, someone else had raised a grave marker for blue crabs. The water was predicted to reach it within the next four years. Z limped out there with two new neighbors to show them how to tend the seaweed seedlings and to learn from them how to tell the names of the dead to the wind in a way that makes it certain, almost certain, that they will cross the ocean.

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