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3:AM in Lockdown 5: Nicholas Rombes

Human Wishes
By Nicholas Rombes.


All time is down time, now.

Outside my window here in Michigan the Black-capped Chickadees and the Red-breasted Nuthatches come and go from the leaning clutch of Boxelders. What do they know of human wishes?

The small artifacts, the remainders, become important in down time. Striving against boredom by turning to boring things. The passed over, the clicked through. The half-forgotten.

On the remarkable site Shorpy there is a photograph from August 194l: “Blasting crew in the Danube iron mine. Bovey, Minnesota.” The month Churchill and Roosevelt signed the Atlantic Charter. They would be pulling from the earth the raw material for tanks and ships.

It’s the hands I keep coming back to, the gentleness, not quite hand-holding but more than mere touching. Something shared. They remind me of Whitman’s Bowery b’hoys. The soft touch of human skin after hands-in-earth-and-stone in the mines.The man with the open shirt and tilted cap is the gravity of the picture. The others are in orbit.

Robert Hass from his poem “Late Spring” in Human Wishes:

you pour your coffee and walk outside, blinking in the sun

People are more than one thing. The nameless men in the photograph, touching. Did their wishes die with them? I don’t think so. Whatever they were, I don’t think so. I can feel the contours of those wishes in this down time.

There’s an invitation in the way those hands touch that reaches, miraculously, across time to find its place right now, at this very moment.

First posted: Wednesday, March 25th, 2020.

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