From where I sit

Right beneath where I’m sitting, there’s soil that hasn’t tasted rain in 150 years. I’ve seen bodies down there, dessicated corpses, none of them human. To me, every permanent structure is an occasion for melancholy. A home built to last represents a life sentence for some plot of land — perhaps that’s why I take such delight in ruins. Once when I was in my teens, for several hours I was convinced that everyone but me had already gone to heaven, leaving behind only some sort of solid hologram. I was excited: I pictured myself being like the Wandering Jew of legend, all alone with the earth. Anyone who wants to go to heaven, I still maintain, doesn’t deserve it.

I didn’t plan it this way, but it so happens that my writing chair occupies the only spot in the house with a view out in all four directions. A moment ago I watched a titmouse land on a branch of a small mulberry on the other side of the window closest to me. He peered intently in my direction then fluttered right in front of the window for a second before flying off. He was of course investigating his own reflection; I was merely part of the background. Some people see animals and want to touch them, want to have them for pets. My hope is always that they will ignore me. I gaze out through the storm door at sun on an icy snowpack, dark trees rooted in a ground that hurts the eyes.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

9 Comments


  1. A home built to last represents a life sentence for some plot of land — nice phrase but the land will certainly outlast the building, won’t it?
    Ok, from this I am guessing your house is 150 years old? Are you writing from a top floor turret? I believe Twain had a special octagonal writing nook built on his sister’s property. You are following in fine footsteps and you are a better poet. (grin)

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  2. No, ground floor, believe it or not. The crawl space is indeed right under me. The doorway to the living room is to my left, so i can see out on the porch; the portico door and another window are at the end of the room ahead; another pair of windows is to the right; and if I swivel around, I can see through the kitchen and out the kitchen window.

    It felt truer to say life sentence than death sentence, though in the long term i suppose you’re right. I think of land as the earth in a human time-frame, but maybe that’s just me.

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  3. Once when I was in my teens, for several hours I was convinced that everyone but me had already gone to heaven, leaving behind only some sort of solid hologram. I was excited: I pictured myself being like the Wandering Jew of legend, all alone with the earth.

    That sounds so very like me in my teens. I would have had exactly the same response, too.

    Ruins are like skeletons: they show the passage of time on a scale that most people have trained themselves to ignore. We can see beyond the human timescale, if we want to. But we seldom want to. Being dead, sure, we all think of that from time to time. But what of being long dead? Twenty years dead, forty, five hundred? We all will be that long dead, sometime. And there’s interesting things to be seen from that perspective.

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  4. (I find myself wishing for modern ruins, yet fear leaching chemicals.)

    To observe. Yes, that is enough most times.

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  5. Well, if someone had to be left, I’m glad it was you. Good post, Dave.

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  6. I want animals to see me, but I don’t want to pet them. I want us to pass each other like strangers with a mutual nod of our heads in recognition of something.

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  7. dale – I knew we had a lot in common.

    One could say the same thing about trees.

    Deb – Yes, nowadays most ruins are biohazards, for sure. That doesn’t stop them from being attractive, though, does it? (Hmm. i know people like that…)

    beth – Thanks.

    robin andrea – That’s a good thing to wish for. I am glad you at least still have some idealism intact.

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  8. I like how the titmouse studying its reflection is echoed in the robot in the next post.

    But I don’t weep for the land under your house. It has plenty of time.

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