Yesterday after work I sat and read. I was again at a favorite location. A number of the people at the pub, I know, and talk with often. I let the noise of the pub help to settle into my reading.
Now I’m reading and I’m turning pages and I like the book. I’m reading about how a child is trying to teach his father and the father misunderstands these lessons. I read about the drum tapping as soldiers prepare for battle. The Poet is doing everything. He manipulates his use of grammar perfectly for him and his words.
I’m deeper now and turning another page and I realize I’m smiling. I’m smiling and I’m turning the page and I’m seeing the bookmark and I stop to ask for a pen and I write-
To Smile Without Pause-
To This I give Myself Permission
But I haven’t a color. I’m invisible.
They need you to mark your color. Here, on this document.
I don’t wish to do that. I’m invisible.
But, you aren’t, I see you fine and you’re here.
Why do they want to mark my color?
Because they wish to judge.
Why would they judge a color?
They were taught to do so.
I’m not sure.
I don’t understand.
They were taught to judge in a space with benches.
Are the benches upset with us?
There’s a box here. On this document. It wants to know if I’m African American, Latino, or White. Where are the other colors and peoples?
Don’t worry about that.
But they are missing? Are they also invisible?
There’s a place to view. It’s beneath the floor. If you know this, it’s you. If another lays their head on this floor and finds your place, what then? We dove deep and saw much and now we ask the floor, “Why did you betray us?” and the floor replied, “We also were betrayed. Can you help?” It was early morning and the floor felt cool on the face. The floor shouldn’t be speaking but there wasn’t anyone else to ask.
Father, what is that in the sky beckoning to me with long
And what does it say to me all the while?
Nothing, my babe, you see in the sky;
And nothing at all to you it says. But look you, my babe, Look at these dazzling things in the houses, and see you
the money-shops opening;
And see you the vehicles preparing to crawl along the streets with goods;
These! ah, these! how valued and toil’d for, these!
How envied by all the earth! – Walk Whitman, Drum – Taps
Walt died in 1882. He’s telling us much. The child saw and asked the father who saw little. It’s a warning. For any of us who can see and those who cannot. It’s time to stop asking. His father does damage and ‘These! ah, these!’ is a bullshit red flag. His father’s emotion wasn’t important then and it’s not important now. What was important was the child asking the question.