These Last Fifty Days

Any man who would fast for this would be hard pressed for what’s to come, I thought.  I fasted, he said on the stage leaning frail against the podium, but his voice strong, I fasted three weeks long because there was some injustice or other.  He didn’t exactly say Some or Other, but by this time everyone in the audience, perhaps even he, must be on to the bigger injustices of the day.  Bigger injustices of the day, indeed.  They become so explicit like a poorly written novel, or a screenplay where all of the actors are forced to say exactly what ills they bring.  I think If this man is still alive now, oh, how thin he must be!  He must be now, when injustice is frolicking like a bully with all the power, when people are scared for television ratings, when people are bombed for fear and for television ratings, for dollars or the new unit of dollars, pure numbers, when graves are filled, mass graves because of heat or mass graves because of the lives that could not be saved from the disaster and the rubble of the latest air strike, like a fleshy suit weathered by the onslaught holding malnourished brittle bones.

            By now, if the man survived these last fifty days, he must in so many ways be weak, approaching death in wasted haste, barely able to take a step onto the stage at the smoke-filled bar and recite his austere poetry.  But how strong his voice was, when I heard him last!  How strong and delighted to be alive, even if living meant for him one long fast!  How it rings in me even now, this voice behind poetry, that takes the thing into the flesh, lives out the poetry, this proud voice blistering with nothing of compunction, but as much a desire to learn as a desire to teach, thundering loud this voice of a man I heard only once, then go on to hear ringing in my head and heart, this fasting voice.

            Although I think he might have dropped dead these last fifty days, what with the injustice as Lord of the Earth, as I couldn’t imagine fasting for fifty days, with nothing, as the man told the chain-smoking crowd nodding and praying with the man, but a bottle of water in the daytime, and one at night, perhaps a can of juice if he was running into trouble, I start to wonder if maybe a man with faith like his could fast not only fifty days, as he must have these last fifty days, but a hundred if he had to.  Hell, I can hear his brash voice telling the bar crowd, I would damn near last the next four years fasting, if I have to.  Give it two years, some heckler would shout.  He would laugh, Yeah I could do that, two years, then go on to recite his lines, his fasting lines, his terrible lines, his lines like admonishing music.

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