The Red of Histories

Behind the wheel it is easy to get lost. Through the black hills, the great plains or the farms of Wisconsin the mind is left to wander as the road stretches ahead. On the horizon ancient hills and lakes and structures, all of them new to me, catch the eye. I would like to photograph them but stopping at every curiosity would only serve to distract from moving forward. It seems best to move forward and so I try not to focus. I get lost, not in place but in thought.

I find myself considering the more absurd aspects of reality. The way the subjective experience interweaves with the world and details stand out in amazing ways. From them I begin to recognize the narratives stitched into the fabric of things. I see the red gravel revealed on roads in Minnesota, the same sort of red which occasionally breaks the monotonous tempo of yellow lines with a spattering of deer blood. Seventy-Six dead deer now, between Long Island and Montana; I’m not sure if that’s a lot.

In the sandstone of South Dakota’s Badlands you can see that red, revealed again, in layers of Earth sandwiched between the grays and yellows of other eons. On snapchat my lovers red hair calls out to those stones. They both seem timeless and are, I think, kin. On Facebook another kind of red floats around. It is the red of crimson “C”s adorning the caps of the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. The Indians with their smiling caricature seem a far cry from those resistant faces of the Standing Rock Sioux, their skin more red with blood today than with melanin. It is hard to forget them in South Dakota, their struggle to protest and protect a sacred land. In a bar in a town which owes its name to them we debate a detour to join the struggle. We decide that it may not be our place.

On the face of America as on the face of the universe one might begin to read these narratives; histories of love, as with my darling back home, and of geology in the sandstones as pink as her hair. There are also stories of neglect, as with the wearing roads of Minnesota, and stories of accidents as with the Seventy-six deer we have passed dead on I-90. Still there are far darker narratives, histories etched with the blood of men prosecuted and persecuted again and again only to have their racist visage cheered on at the World Series.

Thinking is like this. On the road you begin to see things come together.