Both of us had been close
to Joel, and at Joel’s death
my friend had gone to the wake
and the memorial service
and more recently he had
visited Joel’s grave, there
at the back of the grassy
cemetery among the trees,
“a quiet, gentle place,” he said,
“befitting Joel.” And I said,
“What’s the point of going
to look at graves?” I went
into one of my celebrated
tirades. “People go to look
at the grave of Keats or Hart
Crane, they go traveling just to
do it, and what a waste of time.
What do they find there? Hell,
I wouldn’t go look at the grave
of Shakespeare if it was just
down the street. I wouldn’t
look at–” And I stopped. I
was about to say the grave of God
until I realized I’m looking at it
all the time. . . .

-Hayden Carruth.

The dead, not content to merely outnumber the living, to surround them and poison their wells, have elected to invade the host of those who can still fog a glass and purpose them to ruin. This is the story of America you can tell the kids when they leave the house for work. It’s a story of adipocere and backwash; the brownish liquid seeping from the rusty apron of a coffin lifted to make way for a new Dollar store, the babbling of some amateur Civil War historian. Nasty rotten shit that gets everywhere and soils everything-the refusal to part with corpses in any meaningful sense is as big a part of the national character as circling to beat up on the unfortunate.

When you set foot in this country you are firmly in the land of the dead. You are walking on the graves of the insulted and the embittered, you’re breathing the fungal breath of their hell-roasting souls in the person of their dumbass children; you’re always swimming in a rank, poisonous mush of everything that should have been discarded, salvaged lovingly at the expense of everything worth fighting for.

And you’re expected to coo at its flags, because that, at the end is the real assimilation. The overarching unity of the treacherous, vicious, and stupid.

Advertisements