Monday, March 3, 2008

The Border

I'm thinking about interconnectedness this morning. The way we lean on each other even as tensions rise... the way if tensions rise enough we have to remove our own supports.

Last week in Ecuador, flooding and landslides damaged a major oil pipeline. Two dozen people died in the flooding, and thousands of barrels of oil poured into a local swamp.

According to the AP story in the International Herald Tribune,

"Environmental fallout from the 4,000 barrel spill in a mountainous region 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Ecuador's capital, Quito, is "grave," as many Coca River tributaries, a water source for nearby communities, have been contaminated, Oil Minister Galo Chiriboga said."

Ecuador is the fifth largest exporter of oil in South America.
Ecuador relies on Colombia for a pipeline in one area to aid with its extraction of oil.

Today, tensions in the entire area are beginning to erupt. The story in the Times leads,

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela and Ecuador mobilized troops to their borders with Colombia on Sunday, intensifying a diplomatic crisis after Colombian forces killed a senior guerrilla leader at a jungle camp in Ecuador.

The article today suggests that even the threat of war is a welcome distraction from the economy in Venezuela. There were similar suggestions in this country some years back... I think I've said before -- I'm having a hard time deciphering the coverage from the times about Venezuela. Through the rhetoric it is too hard to discern what is actually happening. Chavez speaks in language better suited to a cartoon villain, yet he is real and there is something very condescending about focusing on his words and posturing rather that the actualities of the situation -- demeaning to the people effected by it all. Here and there.

On the border
on the border of war...

It's tiring, listening to people. Listen to poetry.

A Song on the End of the World

by Czeslaw Milosz

On the day the world ends
A bee circles a clover,
A fisherman mends a glimmering net.
Happy porpoises jump in the sea,
By the rainspout young sparrows are playing
And the snake is gold-skinned as it should always be.
On the day the world ends
Women walk through the fields under their umbrellas,
A drunkard grows sleepy at the edge of a lawn,
Vegetable peddlers shout in the street
And a yellow-sailed boat comes nearer the island,
The voice of a violin lasts in the air
And leads into a starry night.

And those who expected lightning and thunder
Are disappointed.
And those who expected signs and archangels’ trumps
Do not believe it is happening now.
As long as the sun and the moon are above,
As long as the bumblebee visits a rose,
As long as rosy infants are born
No one believes it is happening now.

Only a white-haired old man, who would be a prophet
Yet is not a prophet, for he’s much too busy,
Repeats while he binds his tomatoes:
There will be no other end of the world,
There will be no other end of the world.

Warsaw, 1944

Translated by Anthony Milosz

Czeslaw Milosz, "A Song on the End of the World" from The Collected Poems; 1931-1987. Copyright © 1988 by Czeslaw Milosz Royalities, Inc. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source: The Collected Poems: 1931-1987 (The Ecco Press, 1988).

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