Ulzana's Raid


In Ulzana's Raid,
the Native- and European-American concepts of property ownership and rights
are incompatible and irresolvable. McIntosh
had no illusions about that. He said hating Apaches for killing whites
is like hating the desert for having no water.
I suspect the movie's not a good source of anthropological data
and overlooks the commonalities among human communities
to focus on just a few bold characters
as all art must.

I consider McIntosh fortunate
to have died commensurate with the way he lived his life,
rolling a last cigarette, nothing between him and the desert,
and no gravediggers waiting, jesting, defecating. Also,
he is lucky to have had one last, respectful friend
to whom there is nothing left to say. How will that be,
Kah-ti-nay?

Last night's performance of Beauty and the Beast
may have been the most victorious, ecstatic, cohesive
moment in our little school's history. Emily was Beauty, a filament of energy
who doesn't like to be touched and has been known to punch
boys hard. She had memorized her lines until she was hardly
Emily but only Beauty in a blue dress unselfconsciously
hiking up her tights between the Beast's advances.
Is this done in every American town and the world
over so there's no need to feel lost or lonely
ever?

There is no context for a man
outside the platoon or raiding party, home or shop.
When violence comes to the neighborhood,
the hierarchy of communicants will hold or fold
it is then the peace work proves relevant. I noticed McIntosh,
grizzled as he was, accepted the given hierarchy, a raw lieutenant's orders,
as he did the desert and Apaches, with a shrug and foreknowledge
of the outcome. If there's anywhere with no Emily or Beauty
we should bring them such blessings at the point of a
gun. But there is no place without Emily, not
the least-known prison in deepest space as long
as we do not hate or hurt or shun
the Beast.


Copyright 2007 by Robert Ronnow.