Recycling Metaphors, or Arranging the Shards Anew

Language is not a winter blanket. It must stretch for us to make it work. It isn’t large enough or long enough, no matter how I laud it, to bridge the gap. It doesn’t cover nose and toes at once. I’ve said as much before of individual words, tottering under the weight of many meanings. But it hit me again.

Minds are mesas in the desert; we live in canyon lands, apart from one another. We have few tools to leap those gaps– and the leaping itself is a stationary act: only our voices carry, gazelles, pole vaulters, bringing echoes and new voices back. I use metaphors because they are a tool. Like rocks. A stick and a shell can make a hammer; archaeologists find them in shell middens down the coast of Florida, remnants of the Calusa. I use them to hit ideas on the head. I use them like magnifying glasses roasting notions under sunlight until they start smoking.

The distance between mesas can be miles or years. Sometimes the pole is too short. I can’t leap the gap. I keep picking up tools, hoping to find the one to get to that flat topped mountain in the distance, to understand what you mean when you are speaking to me. Maybe we are too far apart, our experiences too foreign to make sense of each other’s tools.

Dear heart, there is no sender, no receiver. Nothing so neat as that. We are throwing every word we have into the void at once hoping something will come across, but we come back only with the feathers of misunderstanding. It’s nights like these that I could become a solipsist, if it weren’t for the cold stone in my palm of one final leap of faith: I believe there are others. I believe there are others. I believe there are others.

Everyday Sorrows

The red and blue lights flashed, but there were no sirens. An ambulance was already on the scene, hunkered over, a cubist vulture. It was on the median of U.S. 41, southern Sarasota County. The car, wrapped around a small tree meant to decorate the green island, had felled it, sheared off at the waist, the sap catching the sunlight. They had been stately dwarfs, three in a row of a flowering sort, purple-pink in the days before summer. I didn’t see the driver, but the tree was enough, broken, oozing.

Later that week, I passed the spot again. The car was gone, hauled off to be junked, all the fragments vanished, shattered glass lost in the median grass. But the tree remained, snapped in half, lying on its side. Its crown of green had withered, and its companions leaned in, paying respects with their own petals.


I do not like Fox News. It stares at me while I work spouting outrageous things (Karl Rove calling Maureen Dowd “deranged,” for instance, or suggesting that the MBTA crash was somehow linked to the driver’s status as trans). Nevermind that Fox News’ anchors appear always as cartoony, over-the-top, exaggerated in their opinions and indignation over the news. Unlike what I term “real news,” Fox always strives to present an opinion. There is no deciding on their network, unless you count the decisions of the network executives to encourage a particular view, leaving the audience at home with only one “reasonable” conclusion to draw from the presentation, and their reporting leaves much to be desired, contrary to their current slogan.

There are things that I expect from this network. Things at which I roll my eyes, things I critique heavily. Sometimes there are things that go too far. Yesterday, less than 24 hours ago, I stood gaping at the screen as news unfolded of a shooting at the Holocaust Museum in D.C. Shaken bodily by the event, my mouth hanging open, I was unprepared for Shepard Smith’s take on the hatred:

This from the network the parades around Bill O’Reilly, fanning flames and calling a murdered man “Dr. Killer?” This from the network that suggested Gwen Ifill wouldn’t be a fair moderator for the VP debate last year because she is a black woman? From a network that trades in slinging about trans and homophobia, racism, and sympathy for murderers who kill in the name of life, to crown Fox News as righteous, innocent, and indignant of their prime viewer base* as an attempt to paint themselves reasonable during a tragedy makes me sick. I was broken in my heart and soul to learn of yesterday’s events at the Holocaust Museum, but this bid at righteousness on the part of a news network that has only worked to fan the flames… I have no more words.

*Forgive me, but this is an inference based upon Shepard Smith’s claim that emails like the one he read on air form a representative sample of all those received.