Contents copyright 1997 by Thomas G. Digby, with a liberal definition of "fair use". In other words, feel free to quote excerpts elsewhere (with proper attribution), post the entire zine (verbatim, including this notice) on other boards that don't charge specifically for reading the zine, link my Web page, and so on, but if something from here forms a substantial part of something you make money from, it's only fair that I get a cut of the profits.
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This coming New Moon is near May Day, and for some reason an old childhood memory floated up. It's about missing May Day in first grade, and never really making up the loss.
I think I'd had May Day with Maypoles in kindergarten in previous years, although the memory isn't really clear. But in first grade the school definitely had a Maypole. And along about that time, for reasons not clear to me then or since, my parents decided to have my tonsils taken out. So my memory of May Day 1947 is of seeing the other children around the Maypole with streamers in their hands while I was being driven from school to the hospital.
Next year I was in a different school in a different town, and I don't recall there being a Maypole that year. It may have been skipped because May Day fell during a weekend.
A year or two later we did plan to have one, but it got rained out. I recall sitting there in class looking out the window at the pole and at the dark clouds in the sky above it, and hearing other people grumping about the weather. I don't recall if it actually rained to any great degree, but perhaps they were wary of letting children play around a tall pole when lightning was a possibility.
We didn't have one any year thereafter that I know of. Why, I don't know. I don't think it was for religious reasons, because at that time and place non-Christian religions were sort of storybook fantasies, not generally thought of as "real religion". And the pole's ancient phallic symbolism was, as far as I know, not generally thought about at all. A Maypole was just an old custom with no controversial overtones, like Groundhog Day or Valentine's Day still is for many people.
Somewhere along there the Soviets sort of took over May Day and the images in the news were not of Maypoles but of troops and tanks and missiles parading through Red Square. That may have kept Good Patriotic Americans from putting up Maypoles because May Day was a Communist holiday. Maybe. I wasn't paying enough attention to politics to know if that really had much to do with it.
I've since been in neo-Pagan Beltane celebrations, some of which have had Maypoles, but it doesn't quite feel the same. Why, I'm not really sure. Perhaps nothing you do as an adult feels the way you think it should have felt had you been allowed to do it in first grade.
Recently I was visiting a biologist friend when he showed me some baby praying mantises he had. Since they eat other bugs, he gave me some for my yard.
I looked at the container he put them in for me, and noticed a Nutrition Label showing twelve grams of fat. That can't be right, thought I, because a whole baby mantis is probably only a few milligrams, and even an adult would be only a few grams total, nowhere near twelve. Or were they using a larger serving size?
"No," said my biologist friend, "The label on the container is for its previous contents, not for the mantises."
"How mundane," thought I, although I didn't actually say anything right out loud. After all, beggars can't be choosers.
But later I got to thinking: What if you did have a container with a Nutrition Label that magically updated itself to reflect whatever was in the container?
With the container empty, the label would show the Nutrition Facts for air. Zero calories, although if you looked at the figures for protein, vitamins, etc., you'd see that those zero calories were all empty calories. Clearly a diet of air alone would not be too healthy.
If you were a character in a mystery or a spy thriller or some such, and you suspected that some person who was offering you a drink was trying to poison you, you could have them serve it in the magic container. Then you could unobtrusively look at the figures for Arsenic, Strychnine, and so on before you drank it.
Even if your life was not that dramatic, you could use the container for ordinary diet planning. But that's too dull for me to write about, so I won't.
Rat-Tat Tat Many years ago I had a friend Who used to go with me to a pond Where we would sit quietly and throw pebbles And watch the ripples spread As we thought about life, The universe, And everything. Through the years our paths diverged, Then finally crossed again. He still throws pebbles, Now from a cliff by the sea, But in a high-tech way That is not at all quiet. "The machinegun," he explains, "Has a worse public image than it deserves. Like any other tool it is neither good nor evil in itself But only an extension of its user. Its peaceful uses are not as glamorous as John Wayne movies Or cops-and-robbers But they are there Even though you never hear about them. His gun was mounted near the cliff edge Aimed out over the sea. Safety was no problem: The rocks discouraged bathers and boaters, And there were warning signs all around, And he was just strange enough That people avoided his place anyway. He would sit there in the twilight As the last red of the sunset faded, And send all the cares of the day Arcing out over the water. The sound filled his entire being, Leaving no room for worries. Tension faded with the echoes Until all was at peace. He especially liked tracers. If he aimed slightly upward They would hang briefly in the sky Like his own private stars. He could imagine them as worlds Where time flowed differently And eons of history passed In what to us were seconds. He would see things in the patterns: Sometimes inspirations and ideas And solutions to knotty problems, Other times memories, or new visions of his inner being. Then he could let the tumult cease, And as the hour grew late sit quietly Absorbing the sounds of the waves And of the night. Thomas G. Digby entered 0100hr 10/18/84
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