Friday, July 25, 2008

337. Mr. Drew Wears Armani

At night, barefoot, on the stony tracks
the roots and the rocks would cut your feet
and you'd come home bleeding, angry,
and prepare for the next time. It went
on and on forever, there in the hills,
down by Cuil Aodha and Gougane Barra.
Tell me the names of a thousand stars
and which of the leaves in the forest
can heal which illness, whether boiled or powdered,
placed in a poultice, eaten, or stuck up your arse.
Twenty years they said it would take, each year
the chance of getting thrown out, rejected,
and the weary shame of returning home.

Knowledge they knew was dangerous
and it was doled out in careful stages; nothing
was allowed to be written; pens and parchment
were things we never saw. Memorise all we tell you
or tomorrow we send you home. In the beginning
it was nigh impossible, but then it became easier,
and our eyes began to see brighter colours,
our ears could hear the mice in faraway barns
and the trout singing softly in the lake,
and we were not asleep even when sleeping;
our teachers slowly, gradually, became less stern
and we knew then we would not be sent home
for us there could be no other home, not then.

Two thousand years later, give or take,
I step off the airplane at LA International
and wave my fingers at the Immigration flunkey
who immediately stamps my passport, blinking.
Out in the hot hazy sunlight I glide into a taxi
and I listen to the mangled Spanish of the driver
for a few minutes, then wave him into silence.
In Beverly Hills I ascend to the Penthouse Suite
obtained with a flutter of the fingers, I telephone
the production company shooting my next movie,
then descend, nattily casual, to the cavernous lobby.
I wave my fingers for an exquisite, well-cooked meal
and eye the elegant blonde sitting four tables over.

A charming little smile, another finger movement,
and she rises from her chair and instantly joins me;
having enjoyed the amenities in my palatial quarters,
I present her with three homemade 100 dollar bills,
far far better than the originals, and she kisses my toes
and bows herself backwards from the room. Ho hum.
Time to call the President, tell him what he's doing wrong,
and accept the usual excuses and apologies. Such a bore,
but one's gotta do what one's gotta do. I find that so true,
and one really needs to plan for the next thousand years.
Had I known in my youth things would end up like this
I might have had second thoughts, felt slightly remiss,
but one grows so used to this business with the fingers.

There is a lot to be said for an old-fashioned education.