SODA FOR MILK

Where were you when the child was crying, mourning a loss not yet hers, but near, an inevitability?
Were you safely tucked away in a cocoon of comfort, one where ignorance could be a justifiable excuse for your indifference?

Etchings of fear lashed across her face, as though a mad man had taken a machete and crisscrossed it with an instrument designed purely for her pain.
Pain so emotional it rendered itself physical upon her body.
That tiny body is a vessel upon which the detritus of an entire region is transported.

Salty tears slid down a well-worn track.
They seemed to know their path, their destination, a knowledge instilled through repetition of this same activity, day after day, till they reached a well unable to be filled.

Relentless pain of the emotional kind is a special sort of beast.
It weakens the mind but not always the body, and the body is our instrument with which we broadcast our state of being to others.
If the emotional is invisible to those observing us, then our pain, fear and desperation all goes unknown, and the suffering, it continues, shrouded by the okay-ness of our physical bodies.

Why are some chosen for a blessed life, and others born in the gutter and forgotten?
By just the luck of a nation, a parent, a situation, we thrive, drown or die.
That soda for milk, that fear for joy, what life is this to live?

Those children of the mountains, they form part of the landscape.
But it’s funny because eventually, the mountain relinquishes that inky chunky matter that is the lifeblood of Appalachia, hungrily clawed from the belly of that land.
But the mountain will never release these children, they are stuck, their permanence in this land ensured forever.


My daughter, Rose Keating, wrote this after watching a Diane Sawyer documentary called A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains. You can watch it here.