EVERY DAY WITHOUT FAIL – by Will Walker
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
One night over soup my mother said Man is only three days and nine meals from the breakdown of civilization–or did she say savagery? She got a look you don’t like to see in a parent’s eyes: panic, as if she was about to drive off a cliff.
When I tried fasting, I thought of her on day three, but not for long, because I found myself taking a bath alone and weeping uncontrollably while I watched the morning sun ripple in the tub–sunlight a miracle, emissary of the divine. It was then I decided I’d better eat breakfast.
In the Middle Ages they called it The Starving Time: July, deadliest of months, when last year’s grain ran out and the new harvest was still weeks away. Whole villages reeled with ergot poisoning, peasants rolling in the meadows ecstatic and starving, careening through the sunny breadless afternoons.
Back among the well-fed, I recall the photos of African children, bellies distended, flies hovering by their eyes, awaiting the next meal that will never come. I can’t help myself: I spoon another bite of oatmeal into my mouth and wonder what I’ll eat for lunch. Somewhere in the world, as I chew, someone is killing for a bag of rice.