And the heart of the matter.
They come to see us, hungry for our size.
Look at our faces. We tower. They dance.
One says, walk slower. One says, closer.
There are more of us now, as though prayers.
Into clouds. No command is needed from this height.
They sing us. A dirge, they sing for beloveds
and the birds call back. From their ovens,
the smell of bread. When they taste,
they will look. Up, they will see us,
our suspended faces
Inspired by a recent New York Times article about Peter Schumann’s Bread and Puppet Theater.
The feathered chest-dweller
coughs. We cannot hear
her song. We gather
at the ribbed rafters,
a motley congregation
of morose faces, to wait,
sensing her watch.
Perhaps she wants
but there isn’t a crumb
Then comes a low hum,
spreading through the nave
of our assembly until
our mouths drop the lines
that seal them.
Opened, we pour out
syllables of grief
too sharp to speak,
that she may absorb
enough to form
Responding to Dickinson.
A long way from their destination, the travelers continued for a very long time. After the last of their maps was lost in the wind, they kept on. They had enough provisions, but nothing of visible progress. Eventually, one among them said, “we’re not getting anywhere.” No one objected.
That night, there was a great celebration. Food and drink were passed around. They joked and argued, cried and laughed, danced and loved. Eventually, everyone slept until it was time to move again. The group continued, arriving nowhere, and spirits were vastly improved.
Notes for a community chorus.
Like this, she said, hands open, singing. Gonna let it move me, she sang, and we followed, fingers splayed and pressing into the space of the circle we made with our attention. Now stir, she said, and we did, and it stirred us up.
Let it come, she sang. We laughed, cried. Feel this, she sang, and by then we couldn’t help ourselves because our centers had shifted to the space between us, and it was this that we pressed with our open hands. It was into this that we poured our voices, surrendered our attentions––
And we held it like that, stirring and singing together, here. Something shifted, and we went with it.
Life, she sang, let this life.
The transformation of silence.
How to speak, that what would live may live,
even if bruised. Even if misunderstood.
Death will come anyway, with its final
silence. Why rush its hand?
If fear is here anyway, let us use it. Your
silence will not protect you. There is
love here, even in war. And company,
in the refusal to swallow a tyranny
of silence, the refusal to comply
in becoming the next casualty.
In becoming, may we live visibly
to speak, share, spread life
creative and continuing
Inspired by Audre Lorde’s “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” from Sister Outsider. Italicized phrases are Lorde’s.
When the pigeons come near the bench, a white-haired lady tossing crumbs from her lap begins to laugh when a lone mallard approaches. You too? she says. Okay, okay. Then come three or four other ducks. Sure, sure, she tells the first, bring your friends. There is enough.
Down the path, a toddler turns from his red rubber ball, and now he is coming too, the others behind him. In the distance, a train sound. Uh-oh, says the boy, and then turns back to the birds. Hands open, arms out. The woman laughs again.