Monday, August 3, 2009

American History XX

Suggested soundtrack:

"We are not the first to suffer, rebel, fight, love and die.
The grace with which we embrace life, in spite of the pain, the sorrows,
is always a measure of what has gone before."
-Alice Walker

why do Americans
hate to sit next to each other
if you have 8 park benches and
18 people
10 will stand up
10 will stand up and stare past the pigeons
who never sit by themselves
1 ant plus
another ant make a community but
200 million Americans make one large ant eater
climbing up to the sandia caves I
thought about our ancestors
how scruffy and strong their
toes must have been, to scrabble in those rocks
I cannot do anything with my toes
even fingers grow only o harpsichordists

we have already forgotten
what mattered about them
the anthropologists who stripped the caves
of all nonessentials
being unable to resurrect
their simplicity and their
make busy diagrams of bones and broken dishes

did they go barefoot in the snow
did it burn them
I believe
they held on to each other with their toes
we are not allowed to go barefoot
it is no longer allowed to be snowing
there was a time the dead looked dead
you could tell them from the living
a man who began to perish in those caves
need not wait half a century for it to finish
there is something to be said for not living indefinitely
nowadays a man who puts a bullet into his head
is liable to be breathing 10 years later
suckled with needles and tubes
and the clinical curiosity of strangers
there was no capsule in that time
to protect them from love or violence
and if a neighboring tribesman
zonked you on the head and
ate your brains
it was a meaningful sacrifice
you would have done the same
nobody I know has tried to eat a medal of honor

I would crawl up the cliff face to meet the old people
but I having died 7 times already
except for the grace of
should have been laid long ago
on the rimrock
to burn in the snow
they had no need for childless women
as we have not much need for mothers
what we need are more park benches
and fewer pigeons
who do not sit by themselves

we who have no darkness
to build fires in
shall go on lopping off the animal parts
we cannot use anymore
until we are shaped like craniums
God will notice the world rolling
with eggs
who cannot reproduce themselves
my ancestors
I would crawl up the cliff face
to meet you
but my toes are misshapen
we are all born with shoes on
- Judy Grahn

I take strength from the struggles of women in the past who grew stronger in the face of adversity rather than wither away. many times when I've felt the task before me was insurmountable, I touched the place in my mind where frontierswomen, suffragettes, immigrants, feminists, activists, witches and martyrs lived and I think, "heck, if they can do that I sure can do this." And I do.

Point being: the past is only as dead as we let it be.

Related posts:
Anxiety and my Genetic Inheritance
Kansas City's REAL First Ladies
Babes in History and Fiction, Part 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

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