A Feeling of Loss
Should we return to an earlier time?
Perhaps when a hunter killed an animal, the animal did not think of the hunter as
his. Perhaps you have made a similar discovery about something that has used you.
Instead of a predator, his shadow. Instead of his death, an absence. His bright
goatskin filled with cream, tied tightly. Instead of a foul odor, breakfast. This could be
thought of as a demonstration of how complicated it was for a herdsman to find a reliable
Eventually the people who had lived in holes stretched skins over small poles and
made the complicit animals pull their caves behind them. The idea of owning things
spread and the unsheltered began to follow their possessions.
Taking care of so many animals was a big job. Sometimes many misplaced men
were needed. The women helped by pulling on ropes, which made the men spin round.
Maybe you too have admired the functional design of a fine saddle even though this is
only one example of the beautiful things made by people who can’t stand still.
And yet the elusive hunter continues searching for his prey. He lives in another
world. He lives in a world that never leaves. His world is still inside the herdsmen even
now. If he forgets what it feels like to live in that world, the others will know he has
become weak. Sometimes such a herdsman has to track down the animal he once was and
kill him in order to remain certain of his own existence, however compromised that
existence might become. Perhaps you have made a similar discovery about something
that has used you.
Sometimes the modern herdsman grows very sad and he goes to the mountains to
feel the old life of the caves again. Sometimes too many herdsmen are looking for too
few caves. The lucky ones rest at the mouth of a cave at the end of the day and begin to
wonder, “Why doesn’t the sky bleed for us?” Then dusk arrives and if their hearts and
eyes are not too cloudy and the sky is curious enough to look that day, it does.
Rich Ives is the author of Tunneling to the Moon: A Psychological Gardener’s Book of Days currently being published in serial @ Silenced Press. Lost? Refer to the Burrow Guide.