Promised Land

Some of you want to know what all has become of Poe.  The questioning, the wondering is fair enough.  And the silence and all has been unfair.  But some’s too much to tell.  But now you can have it. We can carry on.

We – Mazie, the bird and I – we left Barstow at dawn.

But not before absconding with some boiled egg and bread and sausage from the Best Western breakfast nook.  Once on the road, Poe set to caching his food amidst the newspaper in his carrier.

We blitzed California, racing up the 99 through that industrial farming hell, past warehouses, processing plants, sprayers, herbicide distributors, and miles of enslaved trees, genes, and soil and vine, Poe the raven himself bearing witness to the near incomprehensible machination and subjugation of all life to sate a specie’s hunger.

I told Mazie that her grandmother came to California because of a book written by a man named Steinbeck.  It was East of Eden and had been made into a movie by Elia Kazan and starring James Dean in which he became movement and life and desire incarnate.  It was about old California farming communities, and rivalry and lust and inheritance and the inevitable despoiling of the world through our actions.  About the Monterrey morning mist and the fields outside of Gilroy, and about old honor establishing itself in a new land.  My mother had wanted, I think, to be part of California before it was all gone and now it mostly was, at least this part of it.

And in this moment, we, my daughter and I, came to this place to be the bad kid, to find wildness and prove it upon the world once again.

Ashley, our GPS guidance system gave us a few bum steers, out of malice I think, because we hadn’t been giving her much due.  We passed out of the Central Valley, now draped with box stores and outlets for extruded meat, potato and corn products and descended into the Bay Area. Past those quixotic wind mills, harvesting that relentless mass of air pressing itself eastward from the pacific.  Past Livermore, that cesspool of life and death, beginnings and ends, where Edward Teller, in all of his fin de siecle Mitteleurop sensitivities, gave birth to the hydrogen bomb.  Is that what this state, in so much that it’s a state of being, is good for?

Of these things, though, I couldn’t intimate to my daughter.  And lest of all the bird, fragile and innocent and all-knowing intelligence that he may be.  Mazie was cranky and tired.  The bird was cooped.  And so relentlessly we pressed on.

The Bay Area. The Area of the Bay.

The Hideout

It’s bad.

We checked into a Best Western in Barstow late at night. We snuck Poe up to the room, drew the curtains and considered our situation.

It was basically no different than that of all the other criminals holed up in Barstow that night. We’d done wrong, had a kidnap victim in our possession, and were high on junk food.

No sooner had we passed Kingman when Kerry started getting the calls. The rehabilitator, upset and frantic, had been on the phone, accusing Kerry of having stolen the bird. She didn’t even have to waterboard him, and within minutes he was already pointing the finger at me. A century of abolitionist roots and Maine tenancy down the tubes. Sorry, Kerry.

And the rehabilitator had set to calling our house. She worried that I would release him to the wild and that he wasn’t ready. And I think she was just plain ticked that we had taken him from right under her husband’s nose.

Anna insisted that I call the woman back, but Kerry and I concurred there would be little utility in doing so. She was nice enough and had done her part, but there was little point in looking back at that phase in Poe’s life.

Besides, I didn’t want her to have my cell. And if she was really hot under the collar, she could use it to trace our whereabouts.

And lastly, we had bigger fish to fry. We were camped out in the Mojave with this dang bird that we needed to keep alive. The first priority was just getting to our destination and getting him out of the dog carrier. His life had already been hell enough.

We set Poe so he could watch us sleep and shut our eyes for the night.

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Poe hiding out in Barstow