For this Mothers Day, I offer an excerpt from the current draft for IDOLATRY, Part III, The Fruit of the Tree (working title):
The lines had shuffled forward. Paige found herself standing next to the mother. The baby, bundled in her arms, had settled and calmed. He was so beautiful, so right, his blue eyes as clear and complete as little planets, encircled with rays of long blond lashes. His lips were ripe petals, formed for ready suckling. His ivory skin was of the most translucent, softest white marble imaginable, a glowing blush in the cheeks only the most accomplished painter might capture. Every little hillock and vale of his little body’s topography, every rise and fall, every curve and round—it was all mere suggestion of the man to come, all mere promise, and yet, here he was, already present, already real. And flawless. To mothers everywhere, in all times, all but the most unfortunate babies are perfection, but Paige simply couldn’t imagine any woman wanting anything more or less than what this woman held in arms—a complete little world in himself, needing and wanting nothing more, lacking nothing, being everything. There was nothing to add, nothing to subtract, nothing to change. This—this perfect little thing should be untouchable, undefilable, always and forever. How could anything on earth or in heaven be more perfect and whole, in and unto itself? If only it could remain so, if only he might never come to know a moment of sorrow, of pain, of evil, of disappointment. Paige wanted to draw a circle of protection around him, an impenetrable halo of sacredness, to suspend time.
She was blinking away a welling wetness in her eyes. An ache had come to her heart, her stomach: she herself would never have that. She would never have what this woman had. She had never really even wanted it until now, never wanted a child, but at this moment, she found herself wanting it more than anything in the world. How could any woman not?
She looked up to find the mother watching her. Her eyes understood. Woman to woman, the one knew the other’s ache, recognizing the depth of the longing in a woman-child who had lost her own mother, a daughter who wanted nothing more, in that moment, than to be a mother herself.
The mother glanced down at her child, and back up to Paige. Wordlessly, she asked the question.
Paige could only nod, blinking back tears, stunned at the kindness of the offering, a place inside her heart breaking open.
As she accepted the baby, her arms naturally, gently formed around him. It felt so right. She felt her entire body warm with joy. He was so small, so light. She gazed into the blue orbs, perfect worlds of their own, as they gazed back into hers. She marveled the beauty of the little face in all its wondrous glory. He was staring back into a face that was new to him, too, seemingly as fascinated with her as she with him. Her rocking sway, the gentle bounce, had started without her realizing or intending it. She began humming a melody. Her lullaby. Skye’s lullaby….
Parts I & II of Idolatry are available in ebook, paperback and audiobook on Amazon….
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Spirited gods of body and mind,
Cleaving the earth and taking the find,
Arranging the atoms above in a bend,
Beneath which to dine, to dance, and attend
To desirable ends and needful things,
Burning the coal, inventing the wings
Upon which to soar like winged beasts do,
While raising fat herds for the savory stew,
Weaving silk threads, carving bone combs,
Harvesting timber for warm and dry homes,
Gathering the knowledge to hold in one hand,
On tablets of plastic and metal and sand,
Harnessing horses and nuclear parts;
Rocket plumes rise over rickety carts;
From building mud huts to high towers of glass,
From warring with spears to debating with class,
Climbing from caves to the moon and to Mars,
Masters of nature, eyeing the stars.
~ Quent Cordair
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For this Earth Day, a brief passage from Chapter 3 of A New Eden, Part II of Idolatry:
The sun had risen high. The breeze was warm on their faces. Ian produced a bottle of chilled white wine and two glasses, removed the cork, and poured. He raised a toast.
“To another day in paradise.”
She touched her glass to his. They drank, the sunbeams reflecting off the wine and the glasses, dancing across their faces, splashing in their eyes. The wine was crisp, light and good.
“Paradise . . .” she mused aloud.
He had used the word without a trace of sarcasm or irony. The dry ruins beneath their feet, the surrounding hills, and the alkali flats were predominantly in chalky browns, yellows and whites. The sparse native vegetation was all of the scrubby, hardier varieties, evolved over the eons to survive the long droughts, blazing summers and freezing winters of the high desert. From the reservoir, her eye followed the river, the presumable source of all things green in the valley proper. There were bends in the river’s line, but other segments were unwaveringly straight – it wasn’t a natural river at all, but a manmade canal.
“Paradise – ” She smiled at the epiphany – “just add water.”
Ian had laid out an offering of cheese, olives, fruit, and finger sandwiches. “When the first explorers came through this way,” he said, pausing to sample a strawberry, “the valley was a desolate wasteland. There was hardly a reason to even note it on the maps. Most of the early settlers passed north of here, following the Humboldt River west. The few who detoured this far south saw little if anything to recommend the valley – they barely paused on their way to California.”
Paige watched his eyes. They were shaded by the brim of his cowboy hat, following the lay of the land with an easy acceptance and steady intent. His body was relaxed, at one with the place, as if he too had sprouted from the earth here, watered and grown by the river that was a canal. She followed his gaze, trying to imagine the unwelcoming, harsh emptiness that the valley must have been.
“But one man came,” he said, “and that man stood alone on the top of this hill, above where we are now. He envisioned a paradise in this place – and proceeded to make it so.”
There was solemnity in his voice. Paige set her glass quietly on the stone. “Do tell. . . .” she urged.
He glanced at her, studying her in the same steady way he studied the land. Adjusting his hat, he took a bite of an olive, followed it with a sip of wine, and looked out to the horizon and beyond.
“At the time, that man wasn’t even a man yet – ” he said, letting the story begin – “but a boy.”
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ICE and the FDA are sister organizations, existing on the same plane, born of the same philosopher-king father and nanny-state mother. Both agencies were brought into existence on the same principle, to serve the same end: to stand between the individual and a class of things the individual might value, on grounds that only the government can properly judge whether the thing is good or harmful for the individual. Both agencies employ the same means. Through both organizations the government is to be the tester, the judge, the maker of standards, the sole decider as to the acceptability and appropriateness of the thing in question.
ICE stands between the individual and the immigrant, on behalf of the collective. The FDA stands between the individual and a drug or food, on behalf of the collective. The value to the individual of the thing in question can only be of secondary importance to the safety and welfare of the collective — and it is the collective that should decide what the individual may interact with and what he may not. The object in question is held as guilty until proven innocent, deemed unacceptable and illegal until tested, vetted, and shunted through the line of the government’s screens and the bureaucrats’ in-boxes, to be stamped as safe and acceptable, perhaps, but only as weighed against arbitrarily set governmental standards, and only after the arbitrarily established process has been exhausted. If individuals suffer or die in the meantime, this is of secondary concern to the safety and “good” of the collective.
This is preventative regulation, and it stands in stark contrast to rights-protective law. Preventative regulation violates the individual’s right to use his own mind as the sole judge of what is good for him and what is not. Proper rights-protective law goes after rights violators and rights violators only – and strictly contingent on objective evidence. Where there is objective evidence that a country, organization, or individual has violated the citizen’s individual rights or is threatening to violate the citizen’s rights, it is the proper role of government to act on the individual’s behalf against the threat.
Properly, government does not deem a medicine as dangerous until proven safe. It does not deem a surgeon born in India as dangerous until proven safe. It does not deem a field worker born in Mexico as dangerous until proven safe. It does not deem a friend, a lover, a fiancée, a spouse, an au pair, a student, an employee, or a potential business partner born elsewhere as dangerous until proven safe. It does not come between the individual and the product or person the individual has decided, by his own judgment, to value and to interact with. It does not use force to violate the individual’s own reason, his own judgment, his own choice as to what or who is good for him and what or who is not. It does not deem a potential cure for influenza or cancer or canker sores as dangerous until proven safe. It does not regulate opioids or ophthalmologists or Omanis.
“The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality: such a government reverses its only moral purpose and switches from the role of protector to the role of man’s deadliest enemy, from the role of policeman to the role of a criminal vested with the right to the wielding of violence against victims deprived of the right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for morality the following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his.” ~ Galt’s speech, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand