A Successful Man
I stand before a graveyard stone and try to imagine success. You know the kind – where generals fail but privates triumph.
I repeat for the sake of the conscience grinding in my thoughts — success is cold and it’s fragile, can strike against you if the ones like me don’t live up to it.
You, father, imagine success in the world where no one else is buried here, a bullet in one leg, a pin in the other, a mustached soldier fifty years to the good of carrying his babies.
Buildings so close flames leapt from one to next and no dry wood refused its fire. Heat literally, physically, jerked out every root. People roamed about, not knowing where they were. Some burst through doors. Others plunged from windows. There were mourners, women in great sorrow, children screaming, already beyond losing everything city burn-scape in the flares of summer, scrappy old men with their fragile wives, lives they entrusted to roofs over heads, weeping through all of their incarnations, right up to the ash they would someday become.
I watched fire-trucks, ambulances, cop-cars, insurance agents pulling out their books of business. I saw the smoke sky, the tortured red horizon, blockaded streets in all directions. I felt the need for rules. I hummed along to the nervous melodies.
And next morning, I’m thinking, where did it all go? The garden withers equally with the flesh. The edge of the Earth can center in its city. The clueless, the looters, the shameless, the souls stripped of everything… those are the terrors I’m in awe of. That’s the flipside to the dreams we’re made of. And it was a bad night for infrastructure. For schemes in life. For well-laid plans. We own so little of the world’s bounty, so much of its scorn.