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Maureen N. McLane, “Summer Beer with Endangered Glacier”

I suspect it is safe to say that the heat has beaten all of us down. It does feel like the world is melting, and I’m sipping some awful slurp like Bud Light Orange while watching a mass so great it carved out the Grand Canyon finally fall apart. Guess that’s how the world ends: man’s destructive power truly is awesome, so awesome it makes itself most manifest in negligence and ignorance, not necessarily in anything done on purpose.

McLane’s poem below has the charm of a much better summer beer than Bud Light Orange. Stella Artois doesn’t count as summer beer—it was originally crafted as a Christmas treat—but a friend got me into the habit of drinking it at summertime, and I feel like that’s a cheeky “Christmas in July” comment matching the lightness of the poem below:

Summer Beer with Endangered Glacier (from UChicago Mag)
Maureen N. McLane

My one eye 
does not match 
the other

Corrective 
lenses regulate
whatever

needs require. 
Seeing? 
I was being

being seen. 
Let be 
be finale.

Let our virtues 
tally 
up against

the obvious. 
If we 
don’t believe

ourselves 
custodial 
why all

the hoobla- 
hoo, hulla- 
balloo?

Passivist 
mon semblable 
ma soeur

soi-même 
blow through 
this blue

From the title and a perfunctory glance at the poem, we’re talking about being—what is, what exists on account of the strictest necessities—while fueling ourselves with liquid, watching eons break into liquid.

At least, we’re supposed to be talking about being. Initially, it’s summery beery conversation, how our ability to take in appearances appears to us: My one eye does not match the other / Corrective lenses regulate whatever needs require. I wonder how I look; do my eyes look weird to you? Let me say that they do in fact work unevenly, but with the right glasses, whatever needs I have can be regulated.

The sort of comment one makes in casual conversation when wanting to move on to the next topic has a different weight here. “Corrective lenses regulate whatever needs require”—I hear tones of something along the lines of “yeah, the surgery went fine, I’ve learned not to drink so much. Say, are you going to finish those crackers?” The very casualness of that comment, though, speaks dominion thoroughly—we are the lords and masters of nature, regulating our eyesight, trying to build an identity, crafting a being from what was already created.

That sense of dominion is uttered, and the voice on the page immediately rebels, as if someone is questioning her too much. Seeing? I was being being seen. Let be be finale. / Let our virtues tally up against the obvious. You wonder whether I am regulated, normal, whether I can meet my needs. (This certainly is a date gone awry.) Let me tell you that I see well enough. “I was being being seen.” I’m here and you can see me. “Let be be finale.” My eyesight is being regulated well-enough for my needs, thank you very much.

None of this self-assertion, of course, solves the larger problem that we will utterly destroy whatever we think ours. That “have a right to,” even prior to modern capitalism, is the destructiveness of political life generally. War for the sake of peace is the norm and completely crazy. Still, what’s remarkable: there’s pushback here. Stop asking me about my eyes, you don’t have authority over me. “Let our virtues tally up against the obvious.” I’m not perfect, and I’m stronger because of that. I’ve made do with my eyesight, and this date is over.

Oh well. Back to watching the glacier melt alone. If we don’t believe / ourselves custodial why all / the hoobla- hoo, hulla- balloo? We’re so damn custodial, whether its this date who walked away from the table, our narrator with her beer and glasses, or all of humanity. We can’t even have words for nonsense that just are; “hooblahoo,” “hullaballoo” are our compounds. Every bit of drama we experience is manufactured.

Passivist mon semblable ma soeur / soi-même blow through this blue—our default state is control. It makes sense that sometimes we assert that control for independence. And then, just like that, we’re alone again. We’re back to wanting to be submissive. Being passive so as to invite another into our life—yeah, let’s take on passivism, call her our fellow, our sister, ourselves. Maybe we’ll get laid. One thing is certain: that glacier will melt, and the world may come to an end, but we humans have a great talent for creating cycles which we refuse to break, cycles possessing an immortality which almost seems divine.



This post first appeared on Rethink. | Ora Sono Ubriaco D'universo. (Ungaretti), please read the originial post: here

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Maureen N. McLane, “Summer Beer with Endangered Glacier”

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