August 20, 2015

One of my best friends was killed yesterday. She died young, as we say, and needlessly. Her friendship was therapy for me, as she presented me with countless gifts and all I could do was to continually thank her.

She was a bird lover. She had the rare ability to touch wild birds: finches, woodpeckers, crows, doves, hummingbirds, owls, wrens—they all sought her out. They sang to her. She fed birds, as do I, but she was spiritually in tune with them, more so than my friend Hummingbird Man.

She was voluptuous, with great inner beauty, brown-skinned and virtuous. She was fashionable, always colorfully dressed, seasonally dressed. And she danced with grace; she could move with the wind like it was her sister.

I took her for granted, I am ashamed to say. We were comfortable with each other, but she was welcoming and I was standoffish. And now she is dead, and now I mourn and think of all the things I might have said to her.

Her body lies in pieces outside my window as I write. Saturday, she will be cremated. Until then, I watch and mourn.

Whales evolved into mammals, first coming onto land and developing lungs. At some point, they returned to the sea. Evidence of their peaceful intent may be confirmed by those lucky enough to have had a whale surface next to their flimsy craft. Whales choose not to be violent.

Not so with humans. We used our big brains to define ourselves as holding dominion over all life. We say that a God made us for this purpose. That is absurd, of course. We broke out of the natural order and even now, in this the Sixth Extinction, the one caused by big-brained animals we have a primal instinct to destroy.

My pacifist friend’s misfortune was an example of Manifest Destiny gone amok. She was killed in that awful Germanic impulse to destroy and impose order, in nature: kill a towering, healthy, beautiful tree because we can.

She blanketed my house with shade. She graced my life with breeze. She was cut down for no discernible reason.

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.” William Blake

She was in the way.

About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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