This is one of my longer poems, thank you for bearing with me. Prayers for Paris.
Oh Paris, universal ascension of culture,
may this be the last time your city or any is assaulted!
A few days after a terrorist bombing in Paris,
where an extreme religious group claimed responsibility,
my son and daughter took to a bird refuge
on a brief sunlit afternoon,
which was preceded by weeks of rain and rain clouds.
My children study French in high school,
my daughter watches movies titled Un Femme es un Femme
and calls me Maman.
My girl, sweet Francophile,
her heart was heavy with compassion!
The evening prior we three had attended a symphony,
the young conductor took time before the music
to share that the composer Schubert
wrote the score at the age of seventeen.
My daughter scoffed at such accomplishment
and yet when I enter her room,
I step over instruments and books on various subjects,
the tabs on her computer are portals of tolerance and creativity,
she at seventeen is arranging thought and emotion
into a fine and meaningful present and future.
On this day in particular,
as nations poise for retaliation,
she questioned darkness and the possibility of evil.
My son walked ahead of us,
one ear attuned to the wing and wind,
the other to our conversation,
he is one of five sons,
for each I pray I never have to sacrifice.
So many mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers have!
The maestro before raising his baton,
asked our permission if after the regular program
they could play Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony
in response to the tragedy of Paris.
After the fun and folly of Schubert,
the mounting tension of Beethoven conjured
heartache and relief, grief and comfort,
resolving again and again.
If you don’t know this piece, you must listen today!
I tried to describe for my daughter,
the modern dilemma of knowing too little
about too much. In a village a hundred years ago,
after a coal mining accident or an outbreak of plague,
life would resume, you would have resolution,
If among the survivors, you could bring water!
You could mourn with others, who would assuage your sadness!
Lodged in my heart muscle are genocides
I know nothing of other than headlines,
they loop and lasso me, Rwanda, Bosnia, Auschwitz.
My girl is particularly touched
by the recent abduction of over 200 Nigerian girls,
the death toll similar to that of Paris,
yet she knows for Africa there will be no world uprising.
When this particular terrorist group came upon
the world stage, I googled images
and found the beheading of a young girl.
Thousands of times, I have stitched together
her body with my heart fibre!
On my bedside is a book by Linda Hogan,
a Chickasaw poet and activist,
who speaks of the inheritance native peoples carry,
the Trail of Tears, a weeping that continues
in the bodies of the grandchildren,
youths so haunted at night they have to be held down
to keep them from harming themselves.
German Beethoven premiered the seventh symphony
at a charity concert for soldiers wounded,
with the introduction,
"We are moved by nothing but pure patriotism
and the joyful sacrifice of our powers
for those who have sacrificed so much for us.”
Yet, there is no dirge he could have created
dire enough for the Holocaust.
Let us evolve beyond dying for our countries
or killing in the name of our creators!
The entire walk among aviary,
the surging of cellos and the call of the oboe
from the evening prior guided my steps
as I pondered Paris and native peoples.
At the end of the pier, we noticed other walkers
and my daughter and I began to head back
we three, a trio of introverts, usually prefer
our own branch on the tree of humanity,
but this day my son urged us on.
There were two couplets leaning against wood railings,
the first stopped us, the man in his sixties,
gray-ponytailed, asked if I could take his picture
with his granddaughter.
In the eyepiece of the Canon, I captured them
and before he turned, noticed on his fleece vest,
the word Elder was embroidered
over his left breast,
He is a member of a native tribe!
Softly sweetly, he shared story and laughter,
we could feel his presence tenderly tending
his teenage relation.
Behind us, young lovers
were preparing an offering,
tiny chimes were unwrapped from cloth,
the perimeter of a singing bowl was circled.
My girl and I sat on a wooden bench before them.
A call beyond heron and mud flat, past sea sky and salt grass!
The whole walk I had tried to soothe her,
spoke of universal perfection and karma,
but she would not have pat answers,
she only opened when I shared
the most powerful way I know to be,
is to take pain into my body
and hold it there,
until the light of compassion pierces
the dark dread.
All this was suddenly possible
and happened as surely as if angels themselves
opened a gate before us.
This couple did not know of our yearning,
but the tibetan chimes and singing bowl
forged long ago and far away did.
The grandfather and granddaughter,
the young lovers with reverence,
in this world, there are more moments of this!