Survival  

Melanie Schnell 

from Vol. 45.4 - of memory, Summer 2018

I am imagining your hands

closed systems                        

thick fingers curled inwards

clutching an entropied globe.

 

You watch the flickering flat speeches and you nod your

wide head believing you can think for yourself and by God

they are telling you what you already know.

What you’ve known your whole life.

Because haven’t you worked your ass off since you could bloody walk? Almost

died once, run over by an air seeder. The tire, as tall as a small man and twenty

times his weight somehow skipped your spine and heart.

You watched the pale sky’s edges press out

viscous fluid gathering, pushing behind your eyes as your body was crushed

deep into the earth and just in time the wheel made its

slow rotation over to the other side.

Your spirit almost flew up. Large fingers and thumb this close together

in front of my face. So I would understand.

Millimetres.

 

Perspective is everything.

No tears no rage can change the setting

of your kaleidoscope.

Tiny black and grey stones clack against one another

and through a remote square prism you view the cattle cars filing past

filled with ghosts

and you think this fine, this is probably alright.

They couldn’t have deafened their ears or bent their backs

breaking the earth for their families

they couldn’t have understood real pain

real pain.

Try walking on an oil rig site with a broken foot all day. There were no

benefits, no compensation. No one to call. No one to save you.

You had a family to feed. You broke your foot at the beginning of the shift and you

worked on into the night.

 

You say we don’t understand the sheer glory of suffering

for reward, for family, for community.

This is what life is all about.

Your perpetual echo reverberates then finally

 

quiet. Your eye presses against the lens, tightly.

Small stones disperse and drop, clack and scatter.

Scatter and disperse. Thick fingers turn the chamber and

slowly, the train trundles down the line.