“What do I pry into it? Look, we are all parents of everyone, even when we are not parents of anyone.”
Anonymous on the phone on the 30 express bus, Rome
I thought about it.
And I just came up with this only way to say it
L: Do you know the weeping willow?
Yes, the leafy and droopy one that catches the wind, rustles, that swings, almost cradling … it feels good to read leaning under it …
M: the grandma’s one? Yes. It is also good to sleep.
L: also …
L: And if I ask you for a human figure to associate with the weeping willow?
M: Our Mother of Sorrows and several martyrs too.
L: Do they show you only bent figures at catechism classes?
M: Even grandpa Alessandro, tall tall, always bent.
L: What about an animal?
M: The elephant.
L: Really ?.
M: Yes, he sways, and he sleeps whenever he can. And his weight, he would crawl if he could, but he has legs, it’s uncomfortable to crawl; but basically, he dangles downward. And then, beyond the trunk, he has downturned eyes, like those of papa, who is a bit of a willow tree too. Not you, you are more a dog “.
This is the interview with my 9-year-old daughter Margherita.
This is the age in which everything is connected without too many distinctions of categories. Reality is all on the same level.
Then it changes. Adults label.
But if you think about it, a Madonna, a willow, an elephant, a grandfather Alessandro with all their corollary of symbolic and concrete lives, lymph, faeces and pigments, souls and ladybirds, gregariousness and solitudes, are enough to put you in touch with a particular mystical poetics of the interspecies.
If you reason in these terms, that is, about everything with everything in the whole, a pattern of links between the levels of the bios emerges, not exactly fitting as it is not pyramidal, nor anthropocentric, perhaps not entirely verbalizable, since the dis-asc- transcendences are blown up, kinships, bonds, lives are intra-interchangeable at the level of value and evolution.
A world where in the end the transubstantiation – conversion of the substance of bread into the substance of the body of Christ and and of the whole substance of wine into his blood – and the transition from caterpillar to butterfly become distant cousins, acted upon by the same ingenuity.
Even if it is always nature that invents and man, “sigh”, who imitates. Never vice versa.
Do you know the compost?
That spot of existence that comes before its name and also yours, where the mixing and macerating between individuals of different species and cosmogonies, the decay and disintegration of sugars, protein levels, or and amino acids in the soil coincides with creating / nurturing the future of a basil plant or another kind of life?
Here, I feel I can start saying, even if so far it sounds strange to me, and only a part of me understands it, that both you and me, all the others, daughter, willow and company above included, we are all compost.
And from here, from this observation that is a conclusion of a thought, how can we not rely on a story to go further?
Mine is that of an elderly mother, who pretends to be dead to get some attention from these children, so busy, so inattentive, so disaffected and aggressive in their absence. She simulates death. The thanatosis. A very common practice among animals that, in order to escape the aggression of a predator, “play dead.”
It could be a warning, a reminder, an admonition, a metaphor.
A mother symbolizing the planet? Maybe. Children symbolizing us? It could be. But none, certainly not goodness. Nor the fault. Or fate. Nobody is a victim. Everyone is creature and nature, and they all have their own predatory survival strategies like a bee, a radicchio, a sea urchin, because “Everything is people”. “Everything is a person”. Everything wants to live and nothing knows.