Monday, December 24, 2007

Brooklynometry in the Heretic Colony

This post comes to you from Patuxet Village, on the border of Cranston and Warwick in Rhode Island. If I didn't live in Brooklyn, I could live here in Rhode Island. I've been reading a book my mom has lying around, Rhode Island, The Independent State, and in a chapter called "The Heretic Colony," it mentions that some once called it "Rogue's Island," and denounced it as "a hive of hornets, and the sink into which all the rest of the colonies empty their heretics." Among those heretics banished from Massachusetts were Roger Williams, a man who preached of "soul liberty," another the antinomian Anne Hutchinson.

A gifted linguist, Roger Williams learned the languages of the Narragansetts and Wamponoags, and befriended the sachems Massasoit, Miantonomi and Canonicus. He wrote that "Rhode Island was purchased by love." Although he had hoped that "selfless benevolence" would prevail in the nascent colony of Aquidneck, soon everyone who could was laying claim to the land.

I went into a market in this village yesterday, which is built up around a finger of the bay. On the East side of the main drag you find these captain's houses and old inns, on the West, there's the suburban development of this century. One of these little boxes is my mom's house, built into a hill along the Patuxet River, which is tainted with mercury and heavy metals courtesy of some RI jewelry factories.

In the market a picture of a very happy boy stood on an easel. It turns out this is a boy up for adoption. Pictures of other boys are displayed in other stores, the jewelry store, the florists, the pharmacy. It felt very curious, this option to choose a boy along with the marshmellows and pepperoni I had been dispatched to buy.

I wonder if they will find families, here in Rhode Island. Some of these rogues here are very nice, so maybe they will.

It's fitting that my mom lives here. Not only is she a midwife and nurse, like Anne Hutchinson, but also someone who calls it as she sees it, which of course makes her a pain in the $!$#& on occasion. I myself banished her to Rhode Island for that reason. But she's welcome to visit Brooklyn when she likes. Maybe she'll drive down this summer in her Prius with her Kayak attached to the roof and take to the Gowanus.

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