This What We Have Gained

Blackbirds Would Sing

On my day off, I do all the jobs that have accumulated over the week; those we try to put off – until … forever.

Sweeping the patios and cleaning the garden is one of them.

Ages ago we used to have enough water, and at quite high pressure to enable me – and others – to wash off the dust and sand that accumulate as a result of sand storms and unusually dusty weather. It used to be quite an enjoyable task for me because I love water. I would spray the walls and sniff the odor of freshly sprayed plaster. I would wash the trees and spray the flowers to make their colours brighter still. At the end of all this spraying I would reluctantly put down the hose, take up the brush to lift the dirt and put it in the garbage bin. Every one of my kids used to fight over this watery duty; but they would run away from the very last detail – lifting the accumulated dirt.

Now the situation has changed … we can no longer wash the patios, no longer wash the trees, just barely water the plants and sprinkle the dry grass. The patios have to be dry-swept, the garage and the pavement outside, too.

No one offers to help – until the very end, when I prepare to lift the accumulation to throw it away. At that moment my son comes running, “You haven’t thrown them away have you??”, “No, they’re right here”.

Very carefully, he goes through the dry dirt, twigs and leaves to pick out small metal cylinders, dusty and shiny at the same time; some longer, some shorter; he inspects them carefully – just in case. The odor of gunpowder lingers in them. He washes and dries them, and adds them to his hoard. “I think, with this lot I will beat Hammoudi; last week he had more than me!”

This what we have gained.

Shiny cylinders on our doorstep.

Shiny cylinders on our roofs.

Shiny cylinders penetrating our lives in – oh – so many ways.

If only there were enough blackbirds in the world to nick all these shiny, deadly objects and take them away.


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