The Politics of Human Warmth
by Darren Stewart
I will call tomorrow to tell you that you forgot your hip-hop cd in my
We may talk and draw lines, finally; and make black and white of this shade.
Or we may not. We were never good on the phone.
On the bus from Vancouver to the ferry I try to remember your words. Three
days worth aren't many. Such is your nature. I remember all of them.
The smear of your lip-gloss is fading so I taste it in smaller increments so
it will last longer and I wont be distracted from the fact that my bag is
the only thing sitting in the seat beside me and you are in the back seat of
a car toward the mountains, toward home. The other direction.
The guy sitting in front of me has various silver plastic bags filled with
used books. He takes them out one by one and looks at each cover. Some he
opens, flips through a few pages randomly. Some he smells. He
pauses on one book by an author I don't know, called Human Warmth and Other
Stories. I watch.
Quietly. Exothermic. You say (A term from school).
The politics of human warmth are unnecessarily complicated. As is the
humanity of throwing teddy bears instead of rocks. The spectacle nature of
media. And the politics of stealing a grocery store basket to carry our
picnic down to the beach in the rain.
These are part of the politics of what makes one's gut burn for change. We
both know we all share an understanding of the desperate need for a bottom
line based on the relationship between people. That is what's most
important, we think, and we know we all know that, however subconsciously.
The black "A" etched in your skin, a symbol for an ideology, a refusal. It
is also the first letter of the province you'll sleep in tomorrow, which
only now seems far away.
I write this now because you are one of the ones. One of the ones I wonder
about. I wonder where you will go. How far? Or close.
Somewhere else, as always, like the rest of us.
Maybe we'll talk about this when we talk on the phone. We'll talk and I'll
tell you. I'm not a big hip-hop fan so I'll probably just stick it in the
mail. Or hold onto it for when, where and if, I see you again.
I suspect that the clarity you speak of will be easy, and not elusive. Maybe
three fantastic days will go far in making this inevitable. I suspect that
your rejection and my hesitant embrace of tall buildings and old systems
around us, and the fact that we live far and visit less are as trivial in
these negotiations as me not being able to find for you a place in my
hometown that serves vegan dessert, late. At night.
As trivial, in fact, as me not letting you steal that grocery basket,
and putting it back on the stack just inside the door.
Darren Stewart was about time.