The Past is never behind us. Robert Bolaño, The Part About Critics
It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Eleanor Roosevelt
April accepts longer hours of sunlight,conceding with ambivalence cold winds will warm and whisper life into the dead and barren trees. The hillside regards the once frozen canal which, halting, softens until the sepia waters offer sanctuary once again to tadpoles, turtles and walleye and permit refreshment to geese and songbirds returned for summer. Bordering ridges carpeted with shaggy bits of lifeless foliage spawn shocks of color: purple, pink, yellow: Violet, Sorrel, Thistle, Milkweed, Phlox, Anemone. The sound of life is silken, subtle, an orchestration at once unpracticed and sublime. Springtime perfumes with intoxicating simplicity. The moment offers unconstrained contentment. Spring absolves past cruelties of other seasons, nurturing life, generous, assured.
Traffic on the street fractures contentment. The horn shivers theatrically down the small town street. Shoppers tote packages marked with identification: “I am expensive,” “I am chic,” “I am used goods.” Cell phones supplant conversation between partners and among families as the time for the excursion concludes. Acquaintances smile at one another across the asphalt, and then each one quickly demonstrates preoccupation and turns away.
The radio names yet another aggrieved person, fallen victim to the endless cycle of domination for the right or might of the Other group guided by religion, wealth, nationality, political philosophy or control of land. Justice is reported denied by protesters on the corner who demand a life sentence, not twenty years, for the convict who drunkenly extinguished the life of the child. A vast amount of dollars are awarded to the survivors whose river land was despoiled by thick, black oil.
The actor struggles to contain a rage which contorts the handsome face that fills the screen. Provincialism spawning shame he could acknowledge. Shame punished as a crime he could not accept. For crime committed against the shamed, he would have vengeance. The greater retribution as the outrage is compounded by deceit.
Philomena privately recalls the precise contours of her injury. Its depth, its size, its never-ending pain. She shields herself as a simple-minded woman. Her full heart accepts a world she has never known. She apprehends that her son, too, endured ritualized shamining to protect the power of those in charge. She possesses her experience, her pain and her trauma as her personal history which no other can apprehend nor own. This empowers her to confer forgiveness upon her aggressors. She chooses to move beyond the moment of her loss.
Philomena’s story is not one of reconciliation. It is a story of a woman’s power to regenerate against all odds.