Various communities serve as venues for my walking for exercise - and invariably - for contemplation.
Blocks are short; the routes plentiful. There is always some new permutation; a couple rows of modest houses which I have not set eyes upon prior.
I see peeling paint; a roof slumping with age. I see the first struggling stalks of perrennial plants in sparse gardens; dandelion flowers; a bicycle hastily abandoned on a lawn; a truck with giant after-market tires straddling an oil stain at the rear of a wrinkled driveway.
Residents are unseen yet some version of them; some spirit of them are filling my head. I sense them. They are confused and frustrated with endless circumstances that refuse to go their way, and bitter over spouses and others who refuse to be who they were supposed to be. There are tears on pillows, swallowed rage, hidden shame, things stuffed into drawers and under beds. I sense the jealousies and insecurities; the outrage at perceived injustices and imagined insults; their malformed guilt battered by the heavy tools of rationalization. I feel their fading hopes; concealed love; dreams abandoned almost unnoticed; their precious things slowly, clumsily crushed in desperation.
I feel the malaise of the lost; the disconnected; the blind; whole lives every bit as real as mine. Will the shock of that revelation ever diminish?
It is nothing psychic of course. It is only imagination, but yet it can not be inaccurate. These hard symptoms of the matrix of society, though so unnecessary, are all here in some configuration or another, flowing and pulsing behind faces made of windows and doors, while pity and affection swell in my throat and behind my eyes.
I laugh for the dirty window pane hiding the love within.
- Bruce Cockburn