Thursday, February 08, 2007

Doing the Sunday New York Times Crossword puzzle, I discerned that the Civil War Battle being asked for was Fair Oaks. I barely knew that was a Civil War battle--just enough to make the leap give the clue and the letters I had already filled in.

Bing! went my mind. All those little street in Noe Valley are named after Civil War battles. Fair Oaks, Chattanooga, Vicksburg.

Walking across Vicksburg, I have occasionally thought of the very important Civil War battle. Cut the Mississippi in half so the Confederacy couldn't use it like they had been. Was won by U.S. Grant, drawing the attention of Lincoln to a general who could win. Lincoln brought him East and he won. Vicksburg was especially nasty--siege, starve the civilians.

The other battles I don't know about and I hadn't thought about how the whole group of Noe Valley short street specific to Noe Valley between the longer streets that cross neighborhoods were Civil War battles. Gotta look on a map--I'm sure there are more.

What is here now is affected by those battles. The kids that weren't had because people died, their descendants aren't here. The moments that the people who died in battle might have had of insight and of love that might of entered the groundwater of endless consequences didn't happen. There are ideas missing, and touches of one human to another missing because of the ongoing missingness created by the battle of Fair Oaks and its endless cousins.

Before I noticed these little streets were named after battles, I did think about the battle of Vicksburg sometimes at the corner of Vicksburg and 24th. When I walked on Chattanooga, I didn't think of a battle. I thought, sometimes of the time me and some friends had a pizza at the pizza place as it was closing. The two women working there didn't mind us munching on as they cleaned up. We surely didn't not mind them cleaning up because they sang an excellent, close-harmony version of "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" as the did say. Stacking chairs in rhythm, making practiced hand gestures at certain points. They had practiced; they were good.

Certain whimsy missing because the daughters of the daughters, the sons of the sons of the war dead took their particular DNA and its implied brain wiring to an early grave.

One purpose of the Civil War was that people who were enslaved be free to vote, to live, to move where they wanted to move, to quit jobs when they wanted, to be silly in their own way, to make grand art because they had time and weren't beaten to death.

It took to long for the shebang of that purpose to take hold. Chattanooga, Fair Oaks, Vicksburg, then way too soon, you can't get together money to move because it's set up like that, if you try to vote you might get killed by cowards at night.