11 June 2011

Killing tigers

I read somewhere that there are only 3,500 tigers left in the world. Could that be true? We haven’t even brought about the extinction of whales, and look how long we’ve been in the process of saving them. How did tigers manage to slip through unnoticed? Those blunt, vicious heads of dusty pumpkin whorled with salt liquorice, mouths open and dripping black gums – can you even imagine the absence of tigers?

Today on the bus, I watched Hartley sleeping and tried to visualise the world in another thirty years. It frightens me to think of all the things he might lose, even though I’ve only the faintest idea of what we’ve inherited from centuries of civilisation. What will he fear? What will he love, and how? His atoms will weld themselves to the circumstances of whatever shapes them until the two are indecipherable, and we will spend our final years palming that smooth obelisk without any hope of penetrating its mysteries a second time.

Last night I fell asleep thinking: The social media celebrities are the pied pipers of the counterculture, leading the rats straight to us - to the beating heart of our secret inner lives. When I woke up, I had an entirely different thought, which was: humans are essentially here to die and replenish the earth’s resources; we are this planet’s living fertiliser. Gee, thanks brain! I deprive you of alcohol for weeks at a time and you repay me with nihilism.

If you thought that children could throw mortality off your scent while you hid out in the countryside of familial paralysis, think again. Now you need answers faster than you can keep up with the questions, and each day that angelic clay you threw with such hope and abandon just hardens around the features of everything you still can’t account for. Your son is human, and one day he might never see a tiger. One day...

You try to pull back from these thoughts but you rub them in faster, and they explode into a million points of ink. You use that ink to write love poems in the dark, and you hope that it’s enough.

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