This piece was written for the Canada Day 2012 celebrations.
Boy, eight, with Dad, in tub- grave, sanctimonious
Dad, do you know where ‘Dominion Day’ comes from?
Psalm 72:8- ‘He shall have Dominion also from sea to sea’. See? We totally side swiped Nature. Head on collision. It’d be better off without us.
Son, we are animals. Animals are Nature. We are Nature.
I conceded, but not knowing Dominion Day would be reanointed and given its present handle in 1982
In the tête-á-tête groove of the bath, wrath was unavoidable.
And critique of the term and its implications on this upstart Nation was unloaded
What did Dominion do for the sage grouse?! The cod for God’s sake?!
Cod’s tasty and grouse got in the way
Uranium, the leaking pipe, the Golden Spruce?
To be truthful, everything is just so… useful
And gorgeous expressions from the seams of our bones are hewn and honed in lumber and stone
Yours, my filial crusader, are conflicts of the innocent
Instinct has Dominion over us, my son
When you discover love and taxes and where comfort comes from
That everyone is steered by envy and slave to the pay stub
You’ll see we choose by elimination what we love
I love non-toxic shellfish and the obstinance of the sea! The lynx!
The sweet pain of numb toes warming, bird song at 4:30 in the morning!
Finding the perfect smooth leaf to wipe with on the forest floor!
A future nickel or four by four is more!
But you can see why the battle, yes, my hairless sabre rattler?
From the sonic crush of the full bore forest fire, to the ocean’s boat swallowing gullet
The brutality of the prairie’s whipping winds on wandering hairstyles and unmoisturizable skin
Thick rafts of icy northern endlessness
Baffling immensity like an unbreaking childhood fever
This made the foolish explorer a believer in somewhere other
Obsessed with protection like the ever growing hermit crab
But Dad – comfort is attained
Explain the punishing squeal of the off road mangler of tranquility, hammering home a point
The asthmatic crops
The dismissal of mysterious weather
The zapping of carnivores for pleasure
The Sysyphian task of maintaining Kentucky blue grass
Dear son, what are the choices? I know this seems more like war than symbiosis
But we try
See us try in the better-late-than-never saving and setting aside
See us seeking compromise with birdhouses, gardens and honey hives
Our desperate bonds with dogs and cats
We are not removed from the earth, son- we’re infused in it like hickory smoke and jerky
Sure! From the majestic sea louse to the dandelion
Frantic black squirrel to triumphant beetle to thistle under ceiling of carbon
Son, harmony may have to be forced upon this great buffet
Think of man and nature as you and your sister at the tail end of a holiday
Dad, when we went to that cairn of stones on the plateau and read that they were ten thousands years old, we imagined people with the same cares waiting for herds or preparing for attack, on a landscape unsectioned and pure, that’s what I want- I want to go back.
No you don’t.
Yes I do.
You don’t want to go back. You’d panic and starve everyone would laugh at your ridiculous shoes.
Look son, I need you to meet Neil Young
‘Flying mother nature’s silver seed to a new home in the sun
Flying mother nature’s silver seed to a new home…’
A leaf’s veins, the roads of cars and trucks and the rails of trains carrying nutrients
The lightening bolt evidence of our advances
The pollens carried on our hats, the burrs on our dogs’ hair
We make peace or get shaken off
Like a tick on a bear or the teeth of a wolverine on the haunches of a musk ox
You only hang on until it bucks you off
The cairn of stones a mystical spot but
Consider Tikal or Angkar Wat, swallowed by time and returned to the jungle
Punchlines in time, more overgrown every year
They thought they were as important as we do now, here
Weeds crack the sidewalk
A finger in a dike waiting for repairs
As the slapshot mimics the warning tail smack on water of castor canadensis
We may second guess what needs to be before this country seeks revenge on us
And, if not, the silver seed, son, the silver seed
Looking down on a hundred shades of green, on clusters of light, a cocktail of the further ravaged and still pristine
Looking back and saying we strived and learned something for next time.
Dad, I’m 8! This is my next time! You can’t rest my future and fate on our lazy Nature!
The water’s cold, good night
That was typical of bath time in our house
And as the water drained, I mockingly reconsidered my position
Wishing Dad a Happy Dominion Day, we alternated faux champagne bath water toasts
To Dominion over what has always been!
Dominion over how dangerously fantastic this feels
Dominion of cancer, clutter
Dominion over her heart
No! The things I do that move her heart
Dominion over Spam
Limping hesitance, submission
Dominion over loss
My impossible schedule
Dominion over tangled extension cords
The temptation to stop at the liquor store
My default setting
The promise of full dental
Dominion over my end of the conversation in a land that offers the strange luxury and uneasy privelege of pondering all of this
And the possibility, son, that when you’re done thinking, you may become the modified version of a particularly successful child of Nature, testing its limits and drinking its wealth.
A seed on the wind that is steering itself