“The Kingdom of Plastica”
It is the time of the small. Inchworms dangle from trees and arch along pathways, aiming to become geometer moths—carpet, winter, ennominae, peppered, pug. Web strands dangle like high wires across the jungle (woods, but the deep humidity changes the feel). Whole colonies of insects exist under oak leaves.
Mayflies, Junebugs. Nipping buffalo gnats—my body is covered in welts. The food is blood, leaf, stick, soil, garbage. You can’t sit like a character in an E. M. Forster novel, contemplate Pan and take in the view. The view will eat you, skin you, bruise you, suck you, lay eggs in you.
Quid pro quo: In the time of the small, a hiker inadvertently kills with every step. What look like dragons under a microscope are in fact soft, mushy, malleable, soupy, saucy. “I’m going for a hike,” also means “I’m going out and murdering.”
Speaking of which: We have murdered a river. The flooding Mississippi River is a cauldron of human hormone medication, birth control pill residue, farm chemical runoff, radiation detritus, Styrofoam and shredded plastic, prostate shots, human shit, sick fish. This is not the bluff view, of course, the Pan view, but the actual sum of the river.
The new hymn, lyrics by us, is “Shall We Shit on Our River.”
But this is what we wished for.
And now, 80% of teenagers have BPA in their bodies. They have increased risk for mammary problems, immune disorders, liver and kidney malfunction. That is a small price to pay for progress.
Our spawn are the children of the Kingdom of Plastica. Scores of them will die in front of your eyes—better here than in Iran, right? Take comfort: Like soldiers, they will have sacrificed for their countries; like good little Capitalists, they are dying for their corporations. It would be our little secret if loudmouths like that bitch Ocasio-Ortiz hadn’t started ranting about it.
Why would a river poison itself? It is a mystery. Why would species commit suicide? It is a mystery. Yet, poison and commit suicide they do. All we can do is sit on the sidelines and place bets, helpless because we are innocent. Well, there was that eating of the forbidden fruit thing, but that was then.
In the Kingdom of Plastica, it’s a ‘you say minutia, I say Mnuchin’ kind of thing. Nobody’s to blame. Wait. Harriet Tubman—stealing contented slaves and shepherding them north? Maybe, those damn inchworms.