14 entry to the Colonel`s Scrapbook
Born on July 8th
1838 Count Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin ,German nobleman, was born. We remember this guy because he invented rigid dirigibles and many people still blame him for what happened to the Hindenburg. Tough luck 1839 John D Rockefeller was born with a silver spoon in his mouth this US capitalist; founded Standard Oil
1882 Percy Grainger Melbourne, Australia, was born the future composer/pianist/conductor (Hill Songs),boy was he a jaded guy
1918 Nelson Mandela was born in Transkei South Africa, destined to spend jailed a good portion of his life as a political activist.
And oh my god, what a mistake Truman made, in
1950 Gen Douglas MacArthur was named commander-in-chief, UN forces in Korea, and this pompous general wanted to convert the Unforgotten War into World War III along with Chiang Kai Sheck. What a pair! Fortunately he got his jacket pulled before he could do more damage.
Death and the Maiden
My death, or my own shadow, lives over the top of my left shoulder and she is hazel-eyed, overbearing and witty like me. She reminds me I am hers every once and then every week.
I have met her so many times in the battlefield, but she just says hello from afar, meaning well. She knows sooner or later we will sleep in the same bed, although I find it impossible to imagine myself in a bed with another woman in it. I met her the day my mom fell off a rowdy stallion and I was born far ahead of time. Unceremoniously, suddenly, unexpectedly, she was there to greet me when the doctors pushed a forceps into my exhausted mom, but she must have seen me so ugly and frail that she was disappointed because she didn`t take me immediately. The obstetrician drove her away when he told my half dead mother that I was breathing. But she must have seen something attractive in the lousy scrap of humanity that I was that she stayed around to see me into the incubator, where I would stay for almost a month. She hovered over me, changed my diapers disguised as a nurse, and wept a small diamond tear when she saw me leave the hospital in my father`s arms, who had no more remedy than to take me home once I was discharged. He had gone through enough anguish to have me.
She refused to admit it, but she had fallen in love with me, just as you say I am driving you mad. My lady death followed me home, and she must have chuckled when she met my pillow, cat and first confidante, Morpheus, the huge black Persian with Angora cat who slept in my crib as my guaranteed warmer- Morpheus whispered that we were three in that crib, and three in any bed was already an orgy. But he learned to live with her until one day, after he had sired my next companion in claws, Torta, she lost her patience with him, got jealous and sent him packing beyond the Styx River without even paying the boatman. Morpheus died when I was already four years old, we buried him in the backyard beneath a cocoplum tree, his daughter the redhaired Torta and I giving him a military burial. I sang Gounod`s Soldiers Choir from Faust to him as a farewell dirge, I was already a total authority on classical music because my mom quieted me down with anything from Vivaldi to Varèse. I guess my shadow felt a bit guilty about having snatched my first cat so brusquely, but she never goes back on her words or deeds, so she stayed with me although I knew she was dying to say she was sorry.
She could not keep herself from nibbling at my fat toes. Shortly after she took my Morpheus, she inocculated me with smallpox. I was bathed in hot chamomile water, and I felt such a terrible urge to scratch my ugly pustules. My mom would tie my hands to the bedboard so I would avoid scratching when asleep. Somehow I avoided ending up with pockmarks in my skin. I was angry at her. I saw her sewing my small shroud by the window, and I told her to cut it out because I wouldn`t follow her. When she swatted me with what had to be my shroud, I saw she was crying. I felt I had been naughty and apologized, telling her she could take me. She gave me a strange look and said she would keep her candy for a rainy day. Then she flew out the window and I thought she had left me for good.
I missed her. Everyone must be aware that visible or invisible, our own death comes with us along from the moment a lovestruck sperm inmolates himself into the ovule, just like my ancestor Diriangèn jumped over the cliff with his body on fire, profoundly in love with his nation. I knew she couldn`t stay away so long from me, I knew myself to be alluring, irresistible, for her. She had to be infatuated, and you know exactly what that feels like, dearest of readers. She came back to me, arms full of the sunflowers with the blackest centers that I have ever seen, when I was over eight years old. She disguised herself as a medication shock caused by that quackiest of pediatricians in Nicaragua, the politician and self-called writer Fernando Silva, a polemic figure that gets guffaws and no respect from any sane person. I had a sore throat and my doctor Paul Cajina was out of town, so my mother had the dumb idea of taking me to Silva. He wrote like a physician and he treated like a bad writer, so I almost died due to his malpractice. Even though I feel like kicking his old arse every time I see him, I must thank him for having been a good instrument so I could call my lady death back to my side.
Do we know exactly when she is combing her hair like a Russalka on moonless nights in Slavic countries? Was she there when Ferdinand von Zeppelin created his to-be macabre flying hotdog? Did she receive Otto Lilienthal`s body in her lap when he had an accident, unknowing that history would recognize him as one of the greatest aviation pioneers? Did she kidnap Antoine de Saint Exupèry on that last and fateful flight from which he never returned? Is my shadow the same that snuffed out Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in Hungary when on military campaign, where he died as any common soldier at the age of 71? Can I call her then a psychopomp, that figure which escorts us into the Great Divide? Is she only mine, which arouses my fiercest possessive instincts? Did she force Percy Grainger to regret all the kinky things he had done before whisking him away?
My lady death was dressed in ether and orange blossoms when I nearly died in France due to a pneumonia. She was right beside my hospital bed, with the oxygen tent. When my uncle or Ali left me alone for brief moments, she would come and remind me she was the death figure in Schubert`s music Death and the Maiden. Sometimes I would hear her strumming a guitar. Flamenco music, or Tàrrega`s Arabic Caprice. How does it feel to have death serenade you? Was that an inkling that she wanted to take me there and then?
So far, my lay in waiting hasn`t dared to take me. Always with me during the birth of my child, she was aware she couldn`t leave my kid motherless. So she dried up my blood, helped sew me up, and dried my milk so my breasts wouldn`t sag. She chased me through all the combats I would be in, picked me up from the floor when I had my accident, and watched to see my iron corset would still be in place in my head while the physical one was being removed. I can`t complain about her, but still, I watch over my shoulder on moonlit nights when I think she has abandoned me. She lightly pulls at a strand of my hair and the following morning I know she was there, monitoring even my dreams when you come floating into my pores and stay in my bloodstream.
Going into posterity, people who read this will wonder if I was saying goodbye to olife when I wrote this. Funny, today that I have discovered that I have options, more than I thought possible, I felt it necessary to write something for her. She has been with me for 48 years, gotten imperceptible wrinkles around her eyes watching over me, and she has been the midwife of my labor pains as a writer. She has painted my hair in tigerstripes every time she sleeps next to me, and she has let me value life while she watches over my future grave.
I have learned to love her as my second skin, and she has grown more like me every day.
May the day come when I finally go with her forever whenever that may be, but not before I have slept in the same moon canopy as you to know that the only path to immortality can be forged only with love, dedication, and hope.