cafe mama

finding magic every day

unrest . february 16 . 2011

red lights and two boys
I hear the word, "unrest," and it is all truth, no rest anywhere. It began in Tunisia, a flash-bang; smoldered and soldered and fizzed and exploded! in Egypt, and still spits and sparks through the streets and the souks; it snaps and growls, an ill-treated dog on a frayed and careless leash, a power line split and hissing in Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, Jordan, Syria. Like in a dream, I see the black map in my mind's projection screen light up with red, yellow, orange, green, incandescing, popping like firecrackers and shotguns and the little LEGO heads of bad guys and good guys.

My safe-in-Kuwait Army husband is, while not exactly out on the streets of Cairo spinning and whirling in dervishes of fear, still in a different place in my anxiety than he was as January broke cool and collected and everything-possible. I saw the Saturdays laid out, then, busy cold whirls of happy activity all through March, until we'd be packing bags and boys and balls on bikes for farmer's market, Little League, long slow head-back coasts through balmy calms and sparkling, spittling rainy giggles. School in and school out, each day would be longer and more achievable than the day before. Spring always has me gasping by day's end with the just-sprinted-my-heart-out feeling of an euphoric effort. I did it, I did it, I can do it again!

Then unrest broke into my house, slowly at first with the usual winter's bane; nausea and aches and coughing and sniffles. We'd miss wrestling tournaments, and bike rides, and miss again; school days, and meetings, and such. I'd dose all with beef bone broth, rich with onions blackened on the gas range. I'd fight back, lemon juice and cold honey and hot water; marmalade, whole grain bread, carrots and celeriac. I'd sleep in late two, three days in a row, sniffle to my duty with pounding head, with ice cream. We'd be better.

And the unrest spread, from the Mid-East to Southeast Portland, alighting on my eight-year-old boy. In a year's time, less, he'd blossomed from someone other mothers feared on the playground to almost-mainstream, impressing the LEGO club coaches with his unusual and empathetic creativity -- he designed, for the health-themed competition, a entertainment center for the young family members of hospital patients -- screeching through his responsibilities for the Oregon Battle of the Books with uncanny recall. He joined the Lucky Lectores, a teamful of fast-talking, fast-reading M. and two other confident eight-year-olds. Last week, we made buttons, and everyone thought his was SO COOL.

Thursday, he was suspended again, and this time was different. In a new classroom since January, for once, he is not the ringleader, the alpha kid. He's the Montague to this other boy's Capulet, that is: the besotted one. A half of a suicide pact, and if the suicide is not literal poison it is indeed metaphorical. The images that result from their artistic duet (and oh, how good they both are, how they draw, with death-mark'd love) are not destined to bury anyone's strife, they're the ancient grudge and new mutiny in one. And the incivil reception of his friend's violent, terrible art, and its discovery, had Everett mistempered, an enemy to his teacher, school for him cankered with the now-forbidden friendship. Without hope for his kin, all he wanted to do was deny his teacher, refuse his school.

And deny, refuse, he did, coming home to simmer, calm, storm, return with Valetines and then, when asked to discuss, to re-enter, refused: walked outside and said he'd never come back. "Never," for Everett, is often a few days but this one is part of the unrest -- the eruption, the clamoring for change, the domino tsunami effect. All fall down.

I had dared hope to climb the orchard walls and, o'er-perching there, tumble into a school I could love. Instead, peril, enmity without proof, a boy at home, inconstant as the moon but still unyielding. And I? All punish'd. Star-crossed. Unrested.

I pray still: that this tragedy has not yet come to its untimely end.

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read my previous post . explain, a poem . february 07 . 2011