i saw a dead squirrel this week.
it was the same one, three times.
i was like running late to class and always end up cutting through a part of the courtyard because the concrete is stupidly inconvenient to use. and nobody cares either because it's a flat grass plain. the sun was shining in my eyes so i look down. my walking was too fast for me to notice it approaching and be calmly weirded out by the weird shape in the grass and go around, so i got a good eyeful of it right in the center of my vision.
i nearly stepped on it, but i didn't. i didn't even realize i reacted until my body lurched and dragged my foot to the right. it felts like my eyes were bulging out of my head, but only for a moment. didn't stop, kept walking. i forgot about it throughout the day and took the same way back to my car in the afternoon to go home. saw it again, same spot. same reaction.
weirdly, i can still see exactly how it looked when i first saw it. not so much the other two times, though. it moved on the third time and looked more like a blob than anything. god smiles on me that day i think, because it waas so unattractive looking.
not that it wasn't eyecatching, but this wasn't carrion that was feasted upon by animals. it looked like a taxidermied thing. notably, it wasn't there on tuesday but it persisted on wednesday, so it likely died at nighht by natural causes. or some way. i don't know, i'm not an animal expert.
there was nary any blood. it was a shriveled up little thing that i couldn't find myself looking for in any way. a spot of dried blood on its underbelly, glossy eyes and in a stiffly curled up fetal position. it was pitiful, and it laid there for days, dehydrated, or at least looks like it is. not even flies were buzzing around its corpse. No maggots. maybe someday it will be given a purpose by some kind of mushroom or simply turn to ash by natural causes and return to the earth. become the soil we walk on once more without a eye but mine watching.
what kind of life did it live if nobody appeared at its funeral?
i don't even think it had one. if it keeled over and died, nobody must have noticed. no scavengers, no predators, nothing. not even the rats cared for it.
as it wiggled into my head over the week and this weekend, as i'm writing about it now, i ask myself: am i the only one who noticed its existence? it laid there all day on wednesday in the same spot. ran into it in the same way. now that i think about it, it probably is still in the same spot today. i took the concrete instead so i wouldn't have to cross its path again when going home, it might just looked like it changed position, but it was just my perspective that changed.
still, it just makes me feel a bit crazy. i know it's there. other people have to know it's there too, right? there's adirondacks scattered everywhere around the courtyard. it's under a big oak tree, the sun is finally coming out after the winter months.
but it remains, untouched, unnoticed, peacefully sleeping. only perceived by someone else who can share the same fate, but in life. i hope the thunderstorm drifted over to campus so it can have a shower.
it remains in my head too. a pitiful little thing that i hope makes a home for itself in there.
perhaps there will be a moment when some ick of a college woman is walking to class and will scream, finally realizing that there is something more to the soil she walks on. someone will hear, and another will look or perhaps more. it doesn't really matter at that point though, as with most people, the concept of death and the visual of the dead causes fear and dread in them. as if merely looking will cause them to fall through a stargate that will bring them to be judged by christ. so they scream to stop it from being opened. such unfortunate negativity.
if the only way you had effect on people with your life, was in the event of your death, were you really alive to begin with?
if the only way for people to perceive you was to die, would you do it?
some may draw parallels to cultural figures, but if you can't, think of van gogh. his history is a sad, little, pitiful one, it's true, but posthumously a paragon of his craft. a gateway to incredible beauty in the art world, and caused a big cultural shift that waas the catalyst for movements such as french fauvism and german expressionism, the latter of which was one of the biggest reasons why italian futurism got as big as it was pre-wwi. however, the keyword here is "posthumously".
during his lifetime he was treated as swine. a wretch, as suffering from psychosis in the victorian era was practically a death sentence. though it was never solely about that. his work and himself were simply never observed, looked at, and when they were, the world around him felt like. a curse. cursed to be alive and given a brain to understand that the people around him only see him as nothing more than a dog.
and although his relationship with his brother was intimate and they were with each other until vincent killed himself, it never really was enough.
i could go on and on about his story, but it would be needless. research him if you want. fascinating life, resonates a lot with me personally.
the point here is that he was only really looked at as a person after his death. every horrible roommate or piece of art he sold to make ends meet meant not a thing until people saw that there was nothing left to the man. nothing but aa corpse.
i don't know what his final thoughts could have been. i can imagine, but nobody will ever know. maybe the question popped in his mind however. in a world where there are artists can come together over years and years to create and perfect a movement such as impressionism, why couldn't he? in an emerging modern art world, why was he not seen? he's like us, made of flesh and bone, right? why must humans be so antagonistic and materialistic to the point that a human life is seen as expendable? nobody in the world is a nothing, nobody is a living corpse. except for me.
maybe i am the squirrel.
sorry, vincent. i think of you a lot.