The Pulse

IMG_3591Painting can be a form of prayer.  Since  last weekend’s mass murder in Orlando,  I have tried to stay with the images as they emerged, to follow them.  But  words and their associations come anyway.

Orlando. My connection isn’t Disney World, which wasn’t built til I was out of high school, but  the lovesick fellow in “As You Like It.”  I saw the play the summer I was twelve or thirteen. I seem to remember the characters spend a lot of time wandering in the woods, and the men dress up as women or maybe the women as men.  Everything gets tangled up but somehow in the end, things work out. What I remember from that play was the moment when all the action stopped and someone gives a famous speech about the arc of human life as it is intended from birth to old age and death. The speech begins, “All the world’s a stage/and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances/And one man in his time plays many parts,/ His acts being seven ages.”  (read the soliloquy here:   Certainly, Orlando became a stage last weekend.  The victims seven ages violently taken from them.

Mass.  The Catholic kids went to this.  It had to do with kneeling down,   Cathedrals.  Beeswax.  Bread-into-wine.  In school, mass was an idea.  massmatter, you measure it but it’s not what you think….not the same thing as weight or volume. It has to do with resistance and force.    I never understood that kind of mass.  It didn’t matter anyway; you only had to know it for the test.  There were soon other associations. Mrs. Brod got cancer.    Then a lot of other people. mass:  large tumor.  Now I know more:  mass:  incarceration.  mass:  shooting,   as in mass:  occur.

Pulse:  Until a couple years ago, pulse was simply heart beat.  I had pericarditis as a kid and had to stay in bed for six weeks.  I became hyper aware of my pulse.   I worried it would stop.  I could hear it when my head was on the pillow. I started sleeping on my back so I wouldn’t know if it did.    A few winters back, I spent two months on the bay of Fundy.  In that part of Canada, pulse is a bean stew.  Healthy and warming.  pulse:  hearty.  Which brings me back to the beat. Pulse:  A nightclub in Orlando.  A mass of people that matter. Each of them.  Body and soul.





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