Saturday, March 3, 2012

Death's come to Jerry McCormic

Humans are actually social beings, not actually individuals, not really.  This week I was searching the web for some points of personal history.  I didn't find my personal history but I found the history of the organization, the 337th Radio Research Unit at the First Infantry base camp at Lai Khe, Republic of Vietnam, exactly 12 months after I had left it, complete with a photo album. All of the people and  photographs looked exactly as I remembered them.  The place indeed was the same one, the people all dressed like I remembered them but were not the same people.  They were completely different humans.  Same postures, same looks, one guy even had my M-3 rifle I used for courier runs.  It was my rifle, but it wasn't me.  Stranger still was the fully grown little white dog named Skeeter, that belong to this guy I didn't know.  Yes, Skeeter was my dog the tiny puppy we had bought from a little girl in the village of Quan Loi.  Skeeter was a little white female puppy headed to the cooking pot, and she was rescued and raised for six months by me and two other guys.  She was now another mans dog.
My gun, my dog, my place, completely populated by totally familiar strangers in my clothes with my rank, unit patches and insignia, drinking my beer , and eating my steaks, cooked on my grill, outside my tent, in my war......
except, although they were exactly the same, they were completely different.

M.C. #Escher, Moebius Strip II — w/Ants (1963)


by Robert Frost - 1936

An ant on the tablecloth
Ran into a dormant moth
Of many times his size.
He showed not the least surprise.
His business wasn't with such.
He gave it scarcely a touch,
And was off on his duty run.
Yet if he encountered one
Of the hive's enquiry squad
Whose work is to find out God
And the nature of time and space,
He would put him onto the case.
Ants are a curious race;
One crossing with hurried tread
The body of one of their dead
Isn't given a moment's arrest-
Seems not even impressed.
But he no doubt reports to any
With whom he crosses antennae,
And they no doubt report
To the higher-up at court.
Then word goes forth in Formic:
"Death's come to Jerry McCormic,
Our selfless forager Jerry.
Will the special Janizary
Whose office it is to bury
The dead of the commissary
Go bring him home to his people.
Lay him in state on a sepal.
Wrap him for shroud in a petal.
Embalm him with ichor of nettle.
This is the word of your Queen."
And presently on the scene
Appears a solemn mortician;
And taking formal position,
With feelers calmly atwiddle,
Seizes the dead by the middle,
And heaving him high in air,
Carries him out of there.
No one stands round to stare.
It is nobody else's affair. 

It couldn't be called ungentle
But how thoroughly departmental

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