James Dale Merrick
I love dawns that slowly awaken us, mornings that hold back the light of day and gently lift the darkness to interrupt our slumber.
“Magic.” That word entices us to dream. When the Mexican government attaches such a name to a city in Mexico, it is indeed magic. It’s an honor based on the municipality’s beauty, historical importance, or its natural wonders. Accolades befitting royalty are heaped upon it, and the venerable title of Pueblo Magico (Magic Town) is bestowed on the community. It becomes a tourist’s dream destination.
THE LAST PERFORMANCE
Where I come from in Southern California, people don't talk about our last performance. It’s not considered socially acceptable dinner talk, even though most of us go to great expense to prepare in advance for that end-of-life finale. If it ever comes to talking about my mother, I have a different reason.
GARDEN OF DREAMS
It all began with an unremarkable decision to plant daffodil bulbs around some boulders during the fall of 1999. The mounds of rock appeared near the neglected rustic A-frame my partner and I had purchased the previous summer in Bear Valley Springs near Tehachapi, California. My goal was to clear the debris from the long-abandoned culvert that snaked its way down our hillside property line. The boulders were partially buried in a depression that worked its way downward to a rough and sagging twenty-foot square redwood platform. I imagined the deck had served as a gathering place for prospective real estate buyers. Not in my driven thoughts did I think the appearance of those abandoned boulders would possess me for the next ten years.
California, June 28, 2013. At first glance, the Bakersfield Californian’s headline failed to grab John’s attention. He was too busy stirring the sugar stuck to the bottom of his coffee cup. Then he sat up--so suddenly the coffee splashed over the words, “California Approves Gay Marriage!” He grabbed his cell and punched in the message: “did you see the headline? gay marriage oked. can’t believe it! we’ve got to celebrate tonight!”
NATURE'S WORST NIGHTMARE
On September 16, 2017, Hurricane María hit Puerto Rico with sustained winds up to one hundred seventy-five miles per hour. It is considered by many to be the island’s worst natural disaster in recorded history. More than three thousand islanders died as a result.
Traveling to Haiti shivers me all over. I've been there before. The trembling starts in my spine and climbs the stairway to my brain. Then Memory plunges its crookedness to the tips of my toes. I shudder and twist in my airline seat. I press my hands against my forehead to squeeze out images of what I know.
Written by James D. Merrick, July 21, 2021 You may have heard that ignorance is bliss. So have I. This is a story of how such stupidness almost cost me my life.