Slant

SUNRISE: January 22, 2018

The Castration of Uranus. We’ll discuss this when you’re older.

I WATCHED TWO HAWKS overtake each other in the rising light and ordered another plate of bread and butter. Snow was crisping on the ground, flocked here and there by spikes of blackened grass, like an ancient man’s early beard. I’d promised to research accidents, because a friend of a friend was killed in one last week.

Uranus was Saturn’s father; Saturn was the father of Jupiter. Uranus was long visible to the naked eye, but was taken for a star, not a planet, until Sir William Herschel announced, in 1781, that he’d been observing what he initially took to be a comet without a tail, but which other astronomers quickly agreed was in fact a hitherto unknown planet. Herschel wanted to name it after King George. There was some talk of calling it Neptune. But finally, the patrilineal structure above would fix Uranus’s name.

And yet this structure of begetting, rim after rim of fathers as our solar system expanded through the centuries, doesn’t totally feel like it still obtains.

I got distracted remembering I’d forgotten about the things men talk about in bars out here, diseases of above-average intelligence married to father-oriented pain and constant war, their consciousnesses retrofitted to meet the low horizons of the times: little idealists grow into drunken chemists who work long hours in military labs, who invent the enervating medicines administered to drone operators, who will describe for you the private dating service of the CIA, they grow into heartsick lobbyists for the banks or Big Tobacco, and they are the sons of bail bondsmen, the bourgeois sons of Mexican nationalists, the sons of angry men. They are the stuff of the kind of screenplay Cormac McCarthy writes, so bad they’re good, or so the mythology goes, so consumed by ideas of goodness they can only fail. I’m self-medicating said a handsome life insurance adjuster, as though I’d know why, mixing his sixth Michelada. 

Why do I love motels so much. Is it that I read Lolita at a tender age, and that I never felt any more American than Nabokov did, or Humbert Humbert. Is it something about gasoline and highways, what’s left of physical liberty, what’s left of liberty that isn’t digital, Uranian electric blue lighting up my veins in the dark, hiding from the cameras, wanting to be kind to people in secret, believing in peace, against every odd, pale light passing through the fragile veins of a dead leaf, or just trying to run away, though the Muse of the Heavens, formerly known as Urania, the very same Muse Milton invokes in Book Seven of Paradise Lost, even though Urania follows you everywhere, even in the cities where lights blot out the night sky.

Shutdown was the word on all the newscasters’ lips this morning, and in their nasal voices. Uranus in Aries is squaring both the Sun in Aquarius and Pluto in Capricorn. On Wednesday, Mercury will conjoin Pluto, suggesting that more articulate and more explicit language will at last be put to the convolutions, machinations, and convulsions in the Capitol. Pluto is the X-ray, Mercury is the brains and language to make sense of it.

A stranger lobbed a straw cowboy hat at me in the sun and bade me keep it. I used to work for Kiki Smith he said. Give me a call if you feel like getting into trouble, he went on, and then he took apart the ratshit-lined motor of my friend’s truck. The hat fits perfectly. I’m not going to call. Nursing my diet Coke and my tea, I’m filled with sudden affection for the resolute commitment to not bedding down the best version of yourself; I’m filled with awe and respect for the pain people nurse and have no choice but to organize themselves around.

We all do this, even the luckiest among us. I’m attracted to not trying to escape, today. People are so curious about other planets, my teacher said the other night. But there is a lot we don’t know about Earth. There are special places here, he went on, places where the laws of physics do not quite obtain . . .

More research and digressions upon Uranus, castration, manhood, the things people say in bars, the Aquarian age both imagined and supposed, and the upcoming eclipse, to come.

See you tomorrow.

January 22, 2018. Photo: Ariana Reines.

Ariana Reines is a poet & playwright. She astrologizes at lazyeyehaver.com

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