(Back to the story of this family caught up in a revolution, some of them who were making the revolution that now seems brutally ended, such that “dead is real dead”)
It was Sunday the last time they all ate together. They had been to the beach earlier that day, Art, Vida and the kids, and Art was leaning back licking his lips, although there was no moisture and they had finished all the drinks. Vida had called the kids, called them to come and they ignored her but instead of getting cross as she might, she looks over to Art, sees him watching her, brings her index finger to her lip and places a kiss on the end of her finger. Slowly she brings her finger down on his zipper just below his belt, and his eyes get wet and his head fills with confusion and the top of his head creeps as if it might lift off, and he forgets everything so he can slip into the sea, to wait for Vida. She follows him into the waves.
Here there should be some consideration of the body count, although no one is actually counting bodies. There were several bodies left up by the fort, against the wall, blood spewing out of the bodies like rivers running into the road, dripping off the edge of the road onto the sand that turned dark purple, blood mixing with blood. But then even these bodies went missing, and whose bodies were they anyway? All Vida knows is that Arthur, goes the report, was wounded but not dead. Or dead. Or had been disappeared after the invasion. No one knows. What remains is simply grief, and how dead can dead be if there is just the wide open generalized grief?
Here we must assume, dead is real dead. Here three days dead, in this heat, means so dead the intestines fill with gas, swelling the abdomen and forcing frothy red mucus out the nostrils and mouth. Smell, touch, taste, common senses all die with the body. The Philosopher believed that sight and sound, only those remote senses, could apprehend beauty and that beauty is immortal. The aesthetic of the dead doesn’t rely on physical proximity and contact. And those who do not see with living eyes, with human ears, they are not beside the point, but here the point is a stretch of land that was taken first in St. Michael’s, an island of rock and soft earth, and the poets warn that those who do not know the softness of the earth are swallowed by it, that those who seek their immortality are consumed whole. Monuments were built for the revolution and the metal may now be melted down as scrap. Books will be written about the heroes, but eventually the books will be lost.