What shall I pray for now? The triumph of good over evil? A better year for American business? Shall I pray to have more faith in George W. Bush than I did when he stole the election? I don’t want to be fighting a war against terrorism. I want everything to be the way it was before. Give me back the War on Poverty. Hell, give me back the War on Drugs.
George Draffan On Why the Global Economy Won’t Satisfy Us
How can I be a responsible citizen while participating in an international market? Even if my intent is to do good, I can have only the slightest knowledge of the impacts of my consumption. I can’t know what injustice or ecological destruction the manufacture and purchase of my computer, for example, has wreaked. I’ve had no contact with the women in Thailand who will get cancer from putting hard drives together. It is impossible to understand all the social and environmental impacts of a computer made in a dozen different countries.
I’ve just driven 550 miles from LA to a monastery located in the desert a couple of hours northwest of Las Vegas. The moment I spot the Celtic cross atop the adobe chapel and pull in, I see that one of my lessons for the next week is going to concern the gap between expectations and reality. I’ve been picturing a flowering-cactus-festooned oasis; instead, the property is next to a state highway and is home to more double-wide trailers than cactuses.
My trailer shudders in the relentless prairie wind. Despite insulating tape on the pipes that run beneath it and the space heater I’ve put down the well pit, the water has been frozen solid for five days. Drafts force their way past the sheets of plastic I stretched over the windows back in October. When the furnace runs, the trailer is warm enough, but as soon as it shuts off, cold creeps out from the walls to take over the center of my rooms. Somehow I endure, crawling out from under my pile of quilts to start my truck every few hours so that the oil doesn’t freeze, or to carry buckets of water up the hill from the hydrant by the shed.
Pittsburgh, at the end of another terribly hot day in an unending string of terribly hot days, is a forge, the air like damp, tepid gauze. The people on the streets look stretched, desperate, short-tempered. My poetry reading, part of the eighteen-day Bloomfield Sacred Arts Festival, is being held in the Bloomfield Art Works, a small, un-air-conditioned gallery on Liberty Avenue. Its walls are covered with “sacred” art, mostly paintings, photographs, and drawings of angels. The subjects possess that characteristic ethereal androgyny, that feathery beauty that has become cliché. They are intriguing, but, in the main, I’m tired of angels.
I had always thought of us as a model family. My mother taught nursery school. My father was the high-school principal. I was a twirler, which meant that on game days or national holidays — and especially Founder’s Day, the Founder being our direct dead relative — I’d put on my Temperance Wildcat outfit and throw the baton with eleven other girls, mainly girls like myself: not pretty enough to cheerlead, not smart enough to do none of it at all.