– after John Berger

By Celia Meade | February 8, 2020
A line shot up from the mud
and headed straight for the clouds
it glistened in the sun, and swayed before
standing perpendicular.
But wait: a crack
a second leg returned to the earth
thrown out in a relaxed pose
—now the line was a triangle.
A scribble appeared at the crack
—excuse me, I mean angle
the top-most angle
had attracted a mate.
And it's no wonder
those long slender legs
and her casual stance
so high above the mud.
The scribble had his fun
then he fucked off somewhere
and the triangle spawned a little one
she called Isosceles.
Isosceles grew to be like his mother
and by that, I mean triangular
not perpendicular to the earth
with a leg stretched out
but squat, more of the earth.
He stood on two legs equally
and his top-most angle
was frankly obtuse.
Isosceles had something
of his father in him
who’d appeared like a mud cluster
like a piled-up snake
A father who’d always avoided things
and was easily distracted
to the point that he lived in chaos
(he preferred the term anarchy)
“I’m better than you,”
Isosceles said, in those years when teenagers
look down at their parents
even when their parents tower above them.
“I stand with both legs equally
right down by the mud.”
And his mother thought of her own idealism
when she was young, like him.
How she stretched up
as tall as she could
and stood so proudly
with her top-most angle in the clouds.
Isosceles had a point
but he had hurt her with his jabs
so she said, “You’re not really equal
one side of you supports the other two.”
She looked down on her son
even while she yearned for the mess
that was his father
who didn’t support anyone
but had made her feel wow
in her most acute angle
for that brief crazy time
he entangled with her.
It was hard to know what 
Father thought of Isosceles
because he was never around
and furthermore, against everything.
Isosceles was (in his mind)
all about Equality
and his mother, such a snob
but he saw her point
so with great effort
he heaved himself over
and the mud-caked side
set to wiping down its flank
and the side 
pushed into the mud
disappeared from view
its cries drowned out.
The side who’d never been in the mud
thought – Mother was Right
I’ll wedge a box at my foot
to make me perpendicular
while the newly freed side 
was preoccupied, cleaning
and the other one was drowning 
in the mud and couldn’t be heard.
Isosceles teetered
on the brink of collapse
and suddenly understood 
what may have happened to his father.
The son kicked himself.
Mother was in the clouds
shaking her head
and Father, as usual, offered no direction.
Then, out of nowhere, another line shot out of the mud.
Finally, a new line!
A comrade in the struggle
of the rise and the run.
The line arched to track the sun
and surprised them all when
its foot lifted free of the mud
and wedged into its mouth.
“Good luck with that,” Isosceles grumbled,
“a life without angles!”
and Mother felt miffed because
she wanted a successor.
It rolled out of sight
they couldn’t understand it
and there was no way
for them to set it straight.

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