“…and for fuck’s sake, Congress, please impeach that lunatic” said her sign.
“I love your sign” I called to her. She inched closer.
“But Pence is worse” said another woman standing nearby in the crowd.
3 strangers. Middle aged women. Now temporary friends. A Pence vs Trump debate ensued.
“But these kids. Amazing. I can’t stop crying.” Said the sign woman. On that we all agreed. Unequivocally. Unanimously. Whole-heartedly. With Hope.
March For Our Lives
The parents wearing matching orange shirts with “Enough” blazing across their chests danced to the blasting music (was it Michael Jackson?) in the middle of a crowd of nearly a million people (maybe more) while their preteen daughter with braces and her own matching orange shirt averted her eyes. She pretended to be invisible.
“Yes, we are your parents” the mom said, hugging her daughter while still dancing. The daughter’s crimson face was an embarrassment gauge.
“They are actually really cool” I whispered to the girl. “You’ll know that later.” She looked away. What do I know.
They’re so late this year.
The cherry blossoms are due but
Barely a bloom and the peak is
Pushed back a month.
The tall handsome ranger just told
Me it’s the first time since 1937
They didn’t follow “the model”
“Of course they didn’t” I say out loud.
Chilled and confused by
The prevailing uncertain sadness
Who knows anymore what “the model” is?
It’s easier now to stay dormant.
Hiding from stresses is easier for all of us
Who are living through this tumult.
Exhaustion combined with endless worry.
Who can blame those burrowing?
There is comfort in the mindless.
“I had to turn it off” they say of the explosion of daily news.
But these kids have sent a rallying cry.
“Enough” they’ve said while still suffering.
Hamilton sings “The Unimaginable”
The saddest lament
The senseless loss of a child
Now these kids are embraced by what’s good in our nation.
Millions have listened to their call
To wake up
Wake up cherry blossoms.
You can’t sit this out.
Your beauty is a buoy in dark water.
Like these unstoppable outspoken kids.
These beautiful kids who will save us.
The theme of my client holiday letter last year was “I didn’t see that coming.”
Or rather, how we respond to “I didn’t see that coming.” My letter told the story of my five-year-old great-niece’s love of wrestling and how when she was pinned by her older and bigger cousin she looked up at her dad in surprised disbelief, saying “I didn’t see that coming!” Then she popped up for round two.
After, I heard from a number of clients with words of agreement and encouragement. But one man sent an email suggesting I exclude “veiled” political statements in the future because there were many like him who “suffered” over the prior 8 years. My sister, the wrestler’s grandmother and an English professor, said “Well it wasn’t very veiled and sheesh who doesn’t feel that way (incredulous)?”
Today I’d like to have a conversation with that man. I’d ask if he still feels vindicated and proud of the president he helped elect. The president whose litany of “last straw” behavior seems so endless that 3-day-old news is a lifetime ago. And every day another transgression perpetuates our great country’s spiral toward an abysmal end. This is an uncharted story in which nuclear war and nazis are on the table. How could we see this coming?
It seems I’ve said almost daily “it can’t get worse than today.” But yesterday was worse. It is unquestionably worse than the child abuse masquerading as a boy-scout speech or the X-rated Access Hollywood tape or the off-handed “fire and fury” threat of nuclear war. That list is endless and so shocking the memories blur in my horror. But yesterday, he excused nazis and white supremacists, saying there are two sides.
He said those who stood bravely against hate, who stood stalwart for what’s right and who clamored for decency were also to blame for the violence. Was he blaming the dead woman for her own violent death? That is our president, showing us again who he is: twisted, vindictive, hateful, small, shameful. My little niece popped up again in my holiday story. Heather Heyer cannot. I mourn for Heather, killed from hate by an evil young man emboldened by the president. I mourn for your country.
We all should have seen this coming. Sadly, I think I did. I just didn’t want to believe it. Now, for those of us who believe in decency and know there is right and wrong, our only choice is to gather the strength to get up again and stand against this evil.
Her closing eyes resonated suffering, dismay, sadness and the deepest sense of empathy, The old white woman simultaneously revealed all those emotions along with an ocean’s depth of despair. She demonstrated each feeling in a slow deliberate closing when she listened to the account.
Immigration officers in flak jackets raided the mushroom house in the next town over. They took away eight terrified workers, foraging elbow deep in compost, in a handcuffed line. It was a different eight taken than the four who were sought.
In the panic and despair no one checked the warrant. Or checked for a warrant for that matter. Actual details were sketchy but of this it was clear. The owner had shuffled in the shadowy space, speaking noncommittal mumblings wondering who would grub tomorrow. And tomorrow wide-eyed brown children waited pointlessly for parents who were not coming home.
The old white woman absorbed the account in despair and submerged in a silent meditation for love.
And a silent prayer for empathy.
And she silently raged against all that’s gone missing in this callous cruel time.
A bud’s concise anticipatory life stops time
Bracing nature in fresh shades
Briefly hushing agitated hands
Pea, grass, apple, chartreuse
Or simply green
Capturing all the subtle variances
The bursting season’s allure
Unnoticed by terrified passersby
Hauling rigid earlobe hanging shoulders
Reflexively, uncontrollably elevated
Slowing, breathing, stretching, meditating
In pursuit of a clear mind
All attempts at calm fizzle
As enormous bombs explode
Without a plan
Is there a plan?
Clearly no considered plan
Or thoughtful musing
Where rational care is needed
We observe as helpless hostages
Of a locked-in nuclear staring contest
Teetering on hair-trigger volatility
Our country’s fate trapped in erratic hands
Stranded by hopeless fear
And knotted stomach loathing
Eerie prospects cloud our brains
Smothering springtime pleasure
I spoke to Jefferson that night
Or to his statue to be precise
On my visit decades later
On the side of the lawn
Hidden by dark bushes
On the deep winter night
On those grounds I had loved
During those lonely years
Where the beauty of the place
Was my favorite part
“What do you think of him?
Avoiding his name
On the virtuous ground
Sadly the answer
From his frozen gaze
Or my own addled head
He’s not an intellect
Or a patriot
Not an inventor
Or builder of anything real
Not a writer
Or a man of conviction
Not a crusader for truth
Or a champion of honor
(There are no hallowed grounds in his future)
As I take in the place
Built for learning and legacy
I pray for our beautiful country
Cringing in his path
We are all the Iran hostages now
In college a classmate’s father was one
We wore ribbons on our gowns at graduation
In solidarity with her sad face
Honestly we weren’t really paying attention
But when I woke today it was clear
Vivid dreams of dark halls
Windowless dim red-lit rooms
I followed a young soccer player
A beautiful girl barely an adult
Down a dingy hall with carpeted floor
Striding ahead of me backpack and
Ponytail and bare feet rushing to a plane
“The tan is gone from your feet.” I said
“Just two days ago they were deep brown”
She glanced dismissively in denial
Somehow in her tan’s disappearance I knew
Our lives have reset to a new normal
With alien ships hovering overhead
The anxious news a streaming obsession
A lifeline offering little hope
Chaos surrounds the bloviator
Like Pigpen’s dusty cloud bubble
We watch his grandiosity with the sound off
Wondering how to escape