When my toddler son sprinkles salt on the kitchen
floor then attempts to lick it up I immediately
understand the experiment and the risk he knows
he’s taking and the knowledge he expects to be
gaining. He’s at an age where the way a room tastes
is just as important as its dimensions and the way
sunlight enters it and hits the walls and bends yellow
into green, or the way wood floors expand and contract
depending on the temperature and how the sound
it then makes depends on the moisture in the air
and whether it’s morning or evening and the cat
is upstairs or downstairs and it’s a school day or
the weekend in that time of year when the weather
is moody like a child in need of a meal, then rest.
He knows enough to say “macaroni and cheese”
when the waiter comes by at a restaurant, and to
look him in the eyes in recognition and out of respect
for the service he offers at a reasonable cost, yet
doesn’t let the slender measure of civilization that’s
in him prevent him from throwing a whole grain roll
to the ground in disgust as a way of saying that he
doesn’t want any bread and would rather play
at the table with his tiny toy trains until dinner comes.
This, of course, is the dilemma we face. How to retain
the inner passionate child while at the same time learning
to work with one’s fellow inhabitants of the globe and
atmosphere for the purpose of keeping our species
and as many others as possible alive in the face
of the spectacular failures of man’s highest aspirations
and the dominant oppressions of predatory capitalist society.
This is not a joke. This is not another iteration of the necessity
of art and dance and language in the face of a cheapening
of the senses by facile, popular entertainments whose
sole purpose is the fortification of the regressive hierarchy
and oligarchy, but then again it is. And the trick to survival
is to support real work, revere and uphold the practices
of true teachers and educators, and disgrace the purveyors
of idiocy and disable the perpetrators of greed and perpetual
misery masquerading as citizen, celebrity, or institution.
We throw salt to the floor, then size up the breadth
and width of the room through the taste on our tongues.
We throw the stale bread to the ground. We flex our hearts,
we rise with our minds, we lift our fingers with our blood,
and woe unto them who wish that we spill a single drop.
Photograph by Jose Padua