A Brief Description of Living in America
Margaret Sullivan's op-ed, "The galling cynicism of CBS News hiring Mick Mulvaney," is worth your time. She's devastating on Mulvaney's "execrable record of enabling his boss’s corruption and reinforcing his lies." Mulvaney was "deeply involved behind the scenes" when Trump wanted to exchange arms lawfully bound for Ukraine for help in smearing Biden. He downplayed COVID when it first appeared in the country. He tried to convince us after the election that Trump was a gracious loser. To put it bluntly: someone like this should be barred from public life. Mulvaney should be shamed every moment he is on Earth. Instead, he's been gifted a national platform to be a vicious idiot so he can spread vicious idiocy.
A lot of people wonder why Biden's poll numbers aren't going up despite all the good job numbers. Well, besides being burdened with student loan debt and the prospect of being incarcerated for breathing, most people are aware that work sucks because a certain class of people are immune from accountability. Amazon executives are neglectful to the point of deadly. You can rip kids from their parents as part of campaigning for Governor. And Trump, of course, is walking around free. No one is going to poll "Would you be more inclined to vote for the Democratic party if corrupt oligarchs and the party of insurrectionists they bought were held accountable when they commit crimes?" So the dissatisfaction, I believe, makes itself manifest in other ways. Everything sucks because in the face of sheer injustice, everything sucks.
Below, I've written on Jane Mead's amazing "The Geese." It is a sublime work of art and I will be revisiting it in future writings. I think you'll instantly see why I love this poem so much.
Jane Mead, "The Geese"
When Jane Mead's poem is done, I want to be a goose. Look at them. "Nuanced" and "muscular," they're "slicing this frozen sky" while I'm half-remembering something, earthbound. They "know where they are going" and "want to get there."
Do I know where I am going? Do I know what I want? So much of my being is wrapped up in places I am comfortable. I'm not always clear on how to achieve those places. I feel like when I'm there. The geese, on the other hand, fully invest themselves in their journey. Flying in formation makes it physically easier to fly. They track each other. The lead goose trades off every so often and the leader is very necessary, as they orient the group. Going and arrival are not incidental to the geese. The way to the place matters.
The Geese (from Poetry) Jane Mead slicing this frozen sky know where they are going – and want to get there. Their call, both strange and familiar, calls to the strange and familiar heart, and the landscape becomes the landscape of being, which becomes the bright silos and snowy fields over which the nuanced and muscular geese are calling – while time and the heart take measure.
Can I be a goose? "Their call, both strange / and familiar," is not mine, though I can work to understand it. It is a primordial call, resounding across the blank of the sky, descending, echoing. Their call transforms "the landscape" into "the landscape of being," from which "bright silos" and "snowy fields"—traces of humanity—emerge. Mead has left us an incredible scene. We submit to the poetics of "nuanced / and muscular geese."
The geese call "to the strange and familiar // heart." They call, and the world for a moment stops: "[T]ime / and the heart take measure." I know what Mead is talking about, and it's almost funny how minor disappointment can mirror the larger landscape of grief. Every day, someone loses someone they loved, and they still have to go back to shoveling snow or raking leaves or clearing the fields. The animals sound as they always do. Grief assumes an air of nobility as the everyday proceeds.
In the end, we turn to Mead's observation of the geese as "nuanced / and muscular." The significance of the personification is that they're survivors. They flee a coming cold for warmth which will allow them to live. Plenty of people believe that to stop and take measure is the worst thing you can do to survive. Keep going, deny any failure, deny any loss. The geese, we note, do not travel alone.