There Will Come Soft Rains
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
~ poem by Sara Teasdale – featured in Ray Bradbury’s short story of the same name.
Here comes the book snob in me but it is amazing how many people I approached today with this conversation, or some similar variation:
Me: Ray Bradbury died today.
Them: Who’s that?
Am I wrong to be incredulous? Didn’t people have to read Fahrenheit 451 in high school? He wrote it in 1953, for God’s sake. I thought he was far more iconic. He was for me, and I mourn him, anyway, though he was plenty old.
I don’t try to describe the future. I try to prevent it.
As for Jonah, he got into some sort of trouble yesterday with another kid or two, a tangle of aggression. He also tantrumed in his room and hit his head on the windowsill, and has some bruises and a black eye. His nurse M called me today to tell me. Thank you, I said to her, because it is what we say to people when they have provided us with information. Sometimes I say I’m sorry but then that’s dumb too. This is exactly why he is living there, away from home.
If I wanted to, I could worry and wonder about his bruises. I could be paranoid or over-cautious and secretly install a camera in his room or something. Anyone can use surveillance nowadays. It’s 1984, to name another iconic work of literature. Here we are. Everyone everywhere is watching, not just Big Brother.
But then there is the trust that is absolutely essential to do what we are doing and remain sane. Without it I would be a stark-raving paranoid mother, surely using secret surveillance devices to ensure the satisfactory care of my son and showing up randomly once a week to make sure he’s okay. I’d be up nights imagining terrible scenarios, worrying about every minutia of Jonah’s care and life. Sometimes I feel like a bad mother because I’m not stark-raving paranoid.
Just as Ray Bradbury tried to prevent the future (as he said in his quote), so I wish my mind’s manufacture of the future would grind its gears and stop. It’s not even a matter of imagining a better future.
There is only now, say the fortune cookie. Now and now and now.
All covered in soft rains.
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