Terry Hernshaw

oil-panMost of my colleagues had urged me on. They had had belief in me. Others who knew me intimately had sometimes said, upon parting, “You’re a great person, but I felt I was deceived.” That was a silly thing to have said, since I myself could not have known. The great Titanic sank. Machu Picchu is an empty ruin. The Twin Towers have fallen. Busily builders build, climbers climb, workers work, farmers farm. Canoe. Kayak. Row. A, B, C. Alpha, beta, gamma. Blessed by the great guru, I had become at peace with myself. For a minute if not for a day. My spirit I would cast across the lake as rose petals had blown in the wind. My sparkle is eternal, my shine radiant, my mother home.

Little House Mouse Chewing

ripening blackberries

There’s a mouse in the wall and it’s chewing at the wood. The mouse doesn’t mind if I bang there, get up out of bed, and pound around its whereabouts. It pauses between my banging sometimes then starts again, chewing. Other times, throughout my own noises, it keeps chewing on the wood. I’m not even sure if it’s joists or rafters it’s after, but after all, to a mouse I suppose it’s all the same. I want to kill this mouse and can’t so I get up; it’s long before five in the morning, long before even my dreams having finished dreaming for the night. They must have been somewhere between fretful and fitful to have been awakened so easily. I can’t even imagine why the mouse is chewing there. It’s only wood. And what good is that, even to a mouse? There are no seeds, no food, anywhere. I buried the sack of sunflower far away from even my house where neither bluebirds singing nor black bears sifting through the brown forest leaves will ever find them. I put them there despite my fondness for both. I had thought: maybe this once, maybe this one time out of an entire sack of seed a single stalk with a giant yellow bloom in summertime will grow, before the cut-worm gnaws the seedlings down in the dirt. I’d like to think it possible but rather doubt it. Still, this little creature working its little mind away for no apparent and no particular purpose, it would seem, has stirred a little poetic vice in me that I have known. And I’d prefer, though I am sleepy yet, to be knocked away by some interrupting stranger, a little beast of any kind will do, or a sheriff’s hand at worst, to be alone before all this gleaming blackness, than slipping off one day into the night.

“Tempus Fugit” (29 BCE)

christ under construction

It had been millennia, some said, since there was a blessing worth a shaker of salt. So much had gone by already, what news of yesterday were it not to have been repeated again today in some other, newer vessel. Having watched by the while upon the outposts of the swamp, I kept my steadfast sights on a future that I knew. Where St. Petersburg would once be built. Where the Uffizi would one day be. Where phalanxes of soldiers would march. Where Cato proclaimed again and again his injunction against poor Carthage. I had heard it every time. Where Dresden would be bombed, around 135,000 dead or so (and a half a page in moldered history books). Where Little Boy and Fat Man were and had been. What were Nevada and what were The Housatonic. I watched John Rolfe take his sacred vows and once Pocahontas she, too, was then dispatched, he was soon taken up with a third wife. All this and more, the villainies of Cabeza de Vaca, and many more just like him, all this I have watched go by like fallen sands blown upon the desert. Ave Maria. Urbi et Orbi. Requiescat in Pace. Shantih. Shantih. Shantih.