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Sand


by James Lloyd Davis


“For the life of the flesh is in the blood…”
                                    Leviticus 17:11
 
     As children, we lived in a house on the beach, surrounded by sand, our skin touched by sand, moments of our lives filtered through sensations of sand.  Sun on the sand made it hot, scorched and blistered our bare feet until you got to the water's edge where the spirit of the tide still held the waters of the Bay and cooled them again.  We got sand in our clothes, sand in our shoes, sand in our hair, sand in our hearts.
      We were similar, my brother and I, but so different.  If we were Jewish, I would have been of the dark but literal Sephardim, and he, the shining Litvak, an ecstatic Hasid.  My blood was umber, his … golden.  In the sand at the water's edge, my brother, fascinated by the possibilities for beauty in every material, constructed cathedrals of sand that would astound the tourists.  In the dry sand beneath the dunes, fascinated by the concept of the absence of things, I dug holes, deep ones into which the tourists would stumble.
      Yet, I loved him, my brother, for all our differences.  I understood him as no one else.   We shared but one thing, a fascination with boundaries and pushed them, each in his way.  My brother was an artist who loved the differences in all things natural, in people.  He was fond of painting cathedrals, traveled the world to do so.  I suppose I was an artist myself, but expressed my ethos in the hard steel of bridges, ships, tall buildings that rose beneath my feet, supported by the skeletons I built out of iron beams and girders.  I loved the solitude of the high steel.  I built no cathedrals.  I trusted no one.
      My lack of faith in the goodness of mankind was what saved me.  I survive.  My brother's generous faith, however, killed him.  One bullet, back of the head as he walked down the street.  That's how it ended for him.  One small caliber bullet, back of the head.  Pop!  He was dead before he even hit the ground, the detective said.  They found him in the morning, face down on the sidewalk, his life spilled out in puddles around him.  
      Senseless, inevitable.
      Fascinated by the concept of the absence of things, I remember my brother and his beautiful cathedrals made of sand.  This is my religion: “A hole is that which does not exist, surrounded by that which does.”  We, the practitioners of this creed, require no cathedrals, only holes and empty spaces in our hearts.

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