AUTHOR: Beth TITLE: "That is not it, at all.'' DATE: 11/03/2004 11:34:00 AM ----- BODY:
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed, Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, I am no prophet--and here's no great matter; I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, And in short, I was afraid.
--T.S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
So what is left? I see fire in our future. The fire of American flags burning in city streets around the globe. Fire in flaming oil wells. Fire licking the skeleton of burning cars, exploded by suicide bombers at checkpoints. Fire bursting from another exploded building, from another hole left by a jetliner, from the aftermath of something coming that speaks to the mercy of linear time--that is, the benevolence in that we are allowed to lead our lives without knowing the future and what will happen to us. I see fire in my mind's eye when I contemplate four more years of this administration. Yassir Arafat is on his deathbed. Ariel Sharon may seize his death as impetus for highly reactionary action in the Palestinian territories. Depending on America's role in this inevitable confrontation, the ultimate powder keg could be touched off. North Korea remains a threat. And so on. The American populace has, for the past four years, been able to excuse ourselves has having either not really elected President Bush or at least not having supported him wholeheartedly. This time we send him back to the White House with a mandate of 4 million in the popular vote. Terrorists don't distinguish between Republicans and Democrats. They don't separate the liberals from the conservatives before pressing the detonator. We're all fair game now. And yet I'm not surprised. The gears were set in motion long ago. I feel completely helpless and I realize I have for years. It reminds me of something I wrote when the war first began:
Someday, and someday soon, the nightmares I've had will probably come true. Until then, the world is holding its breath, and the fog is rolling in off the waters.
And in short, I am afraid.