A voice says, “Cry out.”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
This song is for the rats
Who hurled themselves in to the ocean
When they saw that the explosives in the cargo hold
Were just about to blow
This song is for the soil
That’s toxic clear down to the bedrock
Where no thing of consequence can grow
Drop your seeds there
Let them go
Let them all go
“Cotton” by The Mountain Goats
These words spewed forth from Franklin Graham’s wretched, sulfuric fingers in response to whichever police execution/acquittal it was, begging others to allow him to tell them how they could be made good, how things could be made whole. My hands are much the same, but I will not stretch them here for another of his sermons. I want instead to listen, to everything else. What does the slime mold want? I don’t expect a direct answer. We might only have translations and translators, but I think we can still hear something.
Is the world rough, or smooth? Perhaps it depends where you look or stand, though I’m not so sure. Bumps in the night seem to persist. Here for Radvent I only want to ask that we let them all out. This is just what it sounds to me like everything is saying. What news could be good for those poor in spirit and body? What are the rats saying, through the singer crooning above? What is the difference between an excuse and an explanation? It seems to me like a matter of what we already understand.
I write about theology and the police. I see clarity in the job title and murkiness everywhere else. Each day is arranged through asking myself about the nature of a distinction between punishment and consequence, in order to allow myself to cry anything at all. Here perhaps I can be allowed to put it more simply: I want to let them all go. You might want to know first what kind of things they are, but I do not. This message for Radvent is just what I think you might already hear, though you would have to tell me. How far down does the toxicity extend? I don’t think I know exactly how to say: I only want to let it all go. You might protest that it is not so easy or simple, that we need to hear specific stories, and I agree.
Nathaniel Grimes lives in Philadelphia.