Monday, March 30, 2015
The Peak at El Yunque
I hiked a rainforest for 5 hours.
I was between 2 (million) ferns. It was 50 Shades of Green.
And like the movie, it was a blur.
I just couldn't read it.
Isn't that what we do? Read a place? Into what we see, what we pass by, insert a narrative, the stories we've heard, the books we've read, the songs we know?
A place sings with its history. Or we sing that history at the place and it echoes back our designs??
But if you don't know that history what have you got? You're like Helen Keller: someone's making shapes in your hand - it feels good- but there doesn't seem to be a point. Let me go play. Feed me.
And what of Puerto Rico came to me as I climbed its second highest little mountain?
I know there must have been original souls, the first people, the Taino here who finally climbed this mountain to get away from the Spaniards who would destroy them. So at the peak, is this where a native nation died?
And then what of five hundred years?
When the Dutch tried to take San Juan and then came the English 200 years later did some poor sot from Portsmouth survive the latter battle and end up wed to a blue eyed Spanish girl with the last name Robben?
What of Puerto Rico's poets do I know? Her novelists and her singers, her artists and her thinkers? Where are they in the syllabus of America?
Where was Deburgos born, and what of Davila? Did Raul Julia wake up and think Yeah I'll rock Hollywood? And Rita Moreno - I'll win an Oscar, a Tony, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and a Grammy. Jesus. Them I know.
The tip of a cultural iceberg, with a yearly average temperature of 72.
I wonder did my childhood legend Clemente climb up El Yunque to see his island, his hometown just off to the left, or like most rabid athletes did he glance up and think "Hell with that, I've got a game to play?"
Eat, play, sleep, repeat. Oblivion for most. Immortality for the few.
I just didn't know what to do with it all. The jungle makes no sense. It was all of a sameness though I am sure it is as multifaceted as any hardwood forest I wander in wonder.
I thought of Klaus Kinski being interviewed in Burden Of Dreams, stunned by the massive rapacity of the Amazon, its "endless fornication". All that seething, squelching life, all that water endlessly pumping. After an hour I was soaked. I sweated out half the poisons I'd taken in all year. The next morning I drank three bottles of water at a blink. It evaporated within me.
And for what? To walk a green path for 5 hours. To view two more views of green below. A peak with a generator on it and a graffitied plinth. Some orange mud, a couple of bright flowers and the tiniest of petaled moss. And maybe there was a kind of wild mint, or possibly poison ivy. I didn't hazard the difference.
The only thing I wondered at were these sturdy butterflies, a dark brown with umber somewhere upon them -where I couldn't tell- as they never settled, would never land and let me look.
And frogs which sounded like soft alarms, and a bird which spooked then shook the tall palms like a mammal but remained unseen.
I think I saw a squirrel. He moved not like the ones I know up North.
I was contained by a place I couldn't codify. I moved for 5 hours in a kind of sodden meditation.
I complain now as I have no more story to tell than what it told me, but possibly that is an apt rebuke or a kindness. A message to any colonizer. And peace for any over denotative self and its need for the subject, verb, and object in every mystery.