We are closest to God when we exhibit compassion. We are furthest when we withold it.
The Collected Poems of Dennis McHale: 1981-2016
There is much power and beauty in her world, yet her soul is divided into two houses:
One is sparce and darkly decadent, surrounded by high windowless walls; there is very little color to break the monotony, and its gate is usually locked.
This house is full of decaying art – the crudely painted memories left by people who felt their life had been changed by divine intervention, offering eternal love for her with promises that were falsely laid.
The other house is rich in colour, its thick outside walls washed in strong blues and reds.
In this house, the gate is flung wide open, and on the patio outside there are clay pots and plates all decorated in a kaleidoscope of vibrant, living colours.
Inside is a tiny virginal bed with a mirror above it reflecting back the inconsistent themes of her life.
She wears her silken hair in ebony rivulets cascading in loose waterfalls down her gently curving back; she takes great pride in the delicate scar across her upper lip, a reminder of the evil that dwells in the angry guts of jealous men.
Her clothing echoes her hair – she dresses in embroidered shirts and wide floor-length flowing skirts, swirling in the warm summer winds of her womanhood.
All of this colour and dynamism reflect her conflicted character; the turbulent and contradictory life she lives. Her own story is both tragic and uplifting; the essence of her more provocative, daring and strange spirit.
Indeed, in some ways the dichotomy of her life are chapters in a long autobiography, paralleled and matched by her inner angels and demons.
This internal schism is refracted through the broken shards of a glass imagination, a constant yearning to fill the void within her. And in that complex yearning, another looming presence which was impossible to escape.
Her secret love, her one true love, is a huge man who looks even more enormous beside her diminutive body. He is a constant (but not faithful) companion. She both loves and loathes him, in constant and equal measure.
The relationship between the two is fraught with conflict and anger. So it might be strange to see the two lace cloths embroidered with their names lying across the pillows of her bed.
There is in her life a curious blend of love, betrayal, hope, and long-suffering sentimentality coupled with a harsh frankness about herself – a combination that seduces many people – not only him.
Each night, she gently and quietly untangles herself from his sleeping embrace and makes her way by moonlight to her gray, colorless house with the locked gate.
She indulges in intense relationships with faceless women and men, offering her backside to conventional morality. But in the cool grey light of morning, she folds herself once more into the warmth and safety of his arms.
This constant terrible pain is a permanent feature of her life, yet it does not restrain her. In some ways it makes her wilder and more uninhibited. For much of what compels her life is about pain, and the terrible fragility of her body compared with the resolution of her mind.
Each day she deals most explicitly with the paradox of excruciating joy and exquisite pain.
Her alter egos are attached by fragile vessels which are not easily cut – hence the bloodstained scissors resting on her white dress. The lush landscape of her dreams seem inaccessible because of the thorny brambles around her neck.
While she might appear, with her beautiful traditional dresses and her tiny broken body, like the ‘perfect doll’ that all men and certain women desire, she is nonetheless fulfilled in her own right, and pursues sexual fulfilment and monogamous peace with equal fervor.
A ribbon around a bombshell.
She is inexplicably wrapped in endless layers of the full spectrum of human experience and the unbidden possibilities in human understanding.
She senses affirmation in the enormous potentiality of both houses and the unique power of being a woman once freed from constraint.
She is fighting a revolution within herself.
Hers is a life of two-way narratives. Of unimaginable passions and failed restraint. An existence made all the worse by sadness, distress and a brutal sense of betrayal. Made all the better by the wanton surrender to the possibilities and potential of a woman’s body.
This is the permanent consequence of her life. Yet the often violent and disturbing intersection of her two houses within her soul provide ironic affirmations of life; there is beauty in both, not only in the qualities of conventionality, but in the power and strength of the life itself.
She is full of curses and imprecations interwoven with lyrical images and fragments of poetry. Her dualism defies fatalism with their colours, their endlessly surprising meetings of image and meaning, their powerful assertions of her womanhood.
She is both madonna and whore, and she is perfect in her imperfection.
Full of hurt and pain and yet equally bursting with life, defiance, and rebellion.
She is an ever-evolving act of defiance, a challenge, a continuing affirmation of life itself.
by Dennis McHale
The slaying of Cecil has galvanized thousands of individuals who have in dismay and agony expressed their collective outrage for this incomprehensible tragedy. The murderer (a word I chose carefully to express my own dismay) is now in hiding, fearful of retribution against his physical self, no doubt in fear for his life. The mob is assembling, the pitchforks are gathered, the torches lit.
I can not, and will not deny them their anger, nor will I offer any defense for the dentist who perpetrated this senseless and cruel crime against nature…but neither will I deny that he is not the only villain in this blood-fest. We are all culpable in the slaying of this majestic lion, for when was the last time any of us demanded an end to this business of savagely hunting down and killing the world’s precious and endangered species for sport and for profit?
When was the last time we raised our voices, as we do today, to cry out for protection for the lions and rhinos and elephants and whales and seals, and indeed, all defenseless creatures charged by nature and by God to our care? Ask yourself, as you hunt down the perpetrator of Cecil’s demise, what have you yourself actually done to prevent such craven and barbaric acts…not only against animals, but against ourselves?
It takes more than flooding social media with tear-soaked tweets and emotion charged re-posts. It takes sacrifice and commitment. It takes money and it takes action. Words are a cheap substitute, and even this, what I write, falls woefully short of what Cecil needed most in the awful hours as he slowly bled with an arrow sticking out of his majestic body. As he endured the hunt in his final hours.
Diane Fossey gave her life defending lowland gorillas. Jane Goodall devoted her entire earthly existence to the protection, understanding, and preservation of chimpanzees and other primates. And what do we do? We content ourselves with casting the first stone. We hunt for one depraved man who feeds his lust for massacre upon our very apathy and inaction. We text our outrage and then just as quickly check our “likes” on Facebook.
Shame on this man for his near psychopathic yearning for destroying Cecil. And shame on us for not beforehand putting in place protection against such acts of depravity in the first place.