Do we call upon ourselves a Tower card? Maybe this is what we want: an utter tearing down of everything around us. The tall buildings we have made as homage to nostalgia for empires long gone; the tall buildings we made to reject those buildings; the tall buildings we made as answers to the rejections. The landlords, the banks, the rich men, celebrity and faux reality, no longer political politicians, the whole fucking system.
No, we now kneel at the feet of the system begging for our pittances. If you send me links on reddit/sbusiness, if you forward me emails from city agencies, if you tag me in blog posts about federal forgivable loans. You know. We rant about our mayors and governors and presidents, our councilmen and women, our prime ministers and princes. Blathering, worthless, indecisive, ineloquent all.
All we are doing is begging for the system to save us.
Instead of Tower we got Death. Oh how she settles deep in our bones, in the muscles that run up the sides of our necks, in the depth we can no longer feel in our lungs. The pandemic is right to attack our very breath. What need we have of breath we could not, already, draw? We fill our cities and rural spaces with clouds of toxins, impurities: paper factories, pork processing plants, pesticides which kill not just our bugs and bacteria but us, too. Thousands and thousands of miles of roads and highways and freeways packed with millions and millions of cars. We drive to the grocery store for ice cream and a head of garlic and raspberries in the winter. We drive to the organic clothing store to try on shirts made of bamboo. We drive to the craft brewery to have a beer with our friend, and then call a car to drive us home. Later, tomorrow, we’ll call another car to drive us back.
All this time, I have been watching. I who have been the lover cartwheeling through space from the top of Tower more than once. I who have thought myself shamanically dismembered. I have told tales about Portland’s virtues; its many craft breweries, its dozens of coffee roasters, its restauranteurs. I have watched the dance of crowds through event spaces in my neighborhood, in the neighborhoods I walk and run and bike through. The catering trucks arrive early; in the evening I walk by, dead tired from work, hear the cocktail chatter, see the shoes tap past, inappropriate for the rain; the next morning I find discarded things, party favors, sparkling wine bottles, three white roses plucked to their perfect button-worthy bloom. The platters of grilled chicken with parmesan and arugula, artichoke sun-dried tomato crostini, do they signal the end?
For me they do.
Breweries with eviction notices on the door, bakeries suddenly shuttered after promising so well. The signs have been everywhere. I was bracing.
Oh but we know from Death comes life. The vulture knows.
It is time for the magic of vultures, and for this I still don’t know what I am portending. I have been watching them, turning and turning, not always on a widening gyre as Yeats says. Other times on a steady one, turning and turning above the point at which I do so much of my worship.
When I stopped going to the Gorge, the vultures were just starting to return. Turn, turn, turn, wending their way through the sky above me as I stood at the viewpoint telling tourists where they were in space and time, where the river comes from, where the rocks do too.
I know I need this change. Need to turn around like Vulture, see it from a different angle. With Death comes life.
I deliver coffee and tea. I sell mobile bike repair services. Used bikes become my business.
My chest aches tightly every night before bed. My body fills with wrack. My teeth grind as I wait.
We will see what life our vulture will bring. Turn around. Turn around. Turn around.