The Knowledge of Light
By: Rex Brooke
I walk the old road toward my boyhood home where you are dying. The road cuts still remind me of ocean waves. Moving again under them The two lane road leans against Yellow eroded sandstone cliffs, hieroglyphs of cracked brown loam after a year long drought. Past the Taylor house where the road bends and the sliced earth exposes the blood red roots of the manzanitas hanging like snakes or unasked questions, still lethal in the air. We used to swing on them, scaling these same sagetop hills pretending Tarzan, Superman, Peter Pan any man fearless, immortal. Immortal. I’ve walked this road a thousand times. Never the same. Never like this. Once past the Taylor house, the road opens wide into the sunlight. the once magic jackrabbit flowerfield is now scrapped flat for 400 or more homes, And I, the surveyor’s son note the grade stakes predicting the cut and fill; calculate the centerline for the new road, the gutters, sewers and sidewalks, the house pads for the future families, plotted, predicted, bench marked against buried monuments, longitudinal lines, magnetic flux, and eventually, the cold north star. You taught me this map makers language of trigonometry, of the elegance of permanence in Euclid how to trust the immutable angles of intersections, of the engineers’ knowledge of the porosity of earth, of the calculus of what bends, of what breaks, and ultimately, how to force perfection in a labyrinth of things unknown . Now you lie with your lips cracked as exposed clay, twitching to the consciousness of faces your can no longer name, the morphine patch on your exposed back, maggot white, the catheter bag filling with blood. Within hours you will be dead. What is this road we walk upon? Euclid was wrong: What we can’t hold eventually Is what shapes us.
Rex Brooke is a retired public school teacher living on the west coast. "The Knowledge of Light was an attempt to dislodge the grief of my father's death."