Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Being Alive

Mist came first, then rain, so slow that the drops could be followed as they fell. The men and women continued their groping dance as the klezmer bands poured their music through the streets. Young girls captured fireflies in cheesecloth nets. They peeled open the bulbs and painted their eyelids with the phosphorescence. Boys squashed ants between fingers, not knowing why.

The rain intensified, and paraders drank themselves sick on homemade vodka and beer. People made wild, urgent love in the dark corners where houses met and under the handing canopies of weeping willows. Couples cut their backs on the shells, twigs, and pebbles of the Brod’s shallow waters. They pulled at one another in the grass: brassy young men driven with lust, jaded women less wet than breath on glass, virgin boys moving like blind boys, widows lifting their veils, spreading their legs, pleading - to whom?

From space, astronauts can see people making love as a tiny speck of light. Not light, exactly, but a glow that could be mistaken for light - a coital radiance that takes generations to pour like honey though the darkness to the astronaut’s eyes.

In about one and a half centuries - after the lovers who made the glow will have long since been laid permanently on their backs - metropolises will be seen from space. They will glow all year. Smaller cities will also be seen, but with great difficulty. Shtetls will be virtually impossible to spot. Individual couples, invisible.

The glow is born from the sum of thousands of loves: newlyweds and teenagers who spark like lighters out of butane, pairs of men who burn fast and bright, pairs of women who illuminate for hours with soft multiple glows, orgies like rock and flint toys sold at festivals, couples trying unsuccessfully to have children who burn their frustrated image on the continent like the bloom a bright light leaves on the eye after you turn away from it.

Some nights, some places are a little brighter. It’s difficult to stare at New York City on Valentine’s Day, or Dublin on St. Patrick’s. The old walled city of Jerusalem lights up like a candle on each of Chanukah’s eight nights. Trachimday is the only time all year when the tiny village of Trachimbrod can be seen from space, when enough copulative voltage is generated to sex the Polish-Ukrainian skies electric. We’re here, the glow of 1804 will say in one and a half centuries. We’re here, and we’re alive.

~ Jonathan Safran Froer, Everything Is Illuminated

No comments:

Post a Comment