“So maybe I suppose words true are necessarily paradoxical to see truth without envy but pity just like my great grandmother Bridgette seeing her old man Papa Frenchie with pity as a seed of love old love in time lost and regained in remembrances of things past and how if you want to be happy free sometimes you have to start with nothing which don’t come from nothing no prospects no hope and you have to walk the streets with an empty stomach losing the pretense of any privilege for it opens up the door to deliverances that I guess just can’t be seen in America now the American South or here for that matter what’s left along rivers for black folks like us in East St. Louis and New Orleans and the happy man the free man can go tell it like how maybe Dulcinea’s parents my Aunt Bethany’s ex-husband David Threnody could tell it being a musician what I heard in that guitar of his when he sang that paradox that true fact that poverty ain’t necessarily shame and moral terror—it could be just a case of bad luck.  No in fact maybe we should see there ain’t nothing wrong with you not some sort of  vagrancy to walk the streets on an empty stomach our betters with privilege castigate as a badge of dishonor because nothing really is proved by it nothing can be substantiated added or subtracted by anyone’s existence they did not ask for which is why maybe Dulcinea in her sister friend confidences to me thought somehow someway she could sing like her mother did and her father wasn’t some kind of failure but in fact everyone else was ridiculous because they wanted something they wanted something from somebody in that esteemed caste system we have in place which we don’t question just as Bethany didn’t question it of her man and I saw this conceit in Dulcinea too just a black country girl like myself from a small town who I think got from her father this idea of freedom that an artist knows and suffers from but dogged by Bethany’s idea that comes from the docile stupidity and ignorance of petit-bourgeois living Dulcinea listening to it that a man should do this or that for his wife and children should provide against that fear of walking the streets on an empty stomach with no hopes no prospect denying what could be that serene detachment that deliverance that what may also be true may also be just around the corner just as the lilies of the field are clothed just as God made lamb and wolf both and called it good…  I heard later from my father after Aaron was shot after Dulcinea hid herself in shame that Bethany was just a pothead in love with herself anyway (something David quit after their firstborn died) and that’s the strange conceit of ignorance thinking it’s wise when truly the wise know they know nothing at all and fear thinking they know it—the equality lost—the equality gone in this form of self-love for you are supposed to love yourself that’s true but like how the Cherokee blood I found in my momma’s ancestry and how other Native Americans say it in their prayers and not be tempted otherwise as it is in the Lord’s prayer to be kind and love your neighbor as yourself but I think in Dulcinea’s confidence mirroring her mother who being a pothead thought her duties were strictly limited to raising the children in that atmosphere that form of self-love loses this that equality and that strange paradox arises where no one is better than you but in this chipped shoulder indignation you act better than everyone else who might in your secret jealousies just be better for even Dulcinea’s father David told her and she remembered the truth of him saying, ‘No matter what in any endeavor you choose to pursue there is always going to be someone better…’ this not some disheartening fact some cynicism he wished to convey to his daughter perhaps even thinking of his son Benjy but a reasoned loving yourself a humility in wisdom of fear towards pride and if not even esteemed as that a very law of nature a laissez-faire let it be of our certain competition—for someone always wins the race.

“And it was that tree that Texas mountain laurel of our youth—that tree house—which like Daphne and Apollo reminds me of it that race the race between love and not-love and how we all have to take it take our rest under it and swallow this our medicine…

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