A soprano sax jazz version of "Smile, though your
heart is breaking" plays in background as I write,
Again offering advice and admonition to hold
Opposite experiences as key to staying present.
Many half-century anniversaries; High School
reunion last year; now 50 years from the defining
Week for Boomers, innocents born post-WWII.
Searing shock and grief, incomprehensible
Betrayal, this generation's direct experience of
Every generation's exposure to human inhumanity,
Behaviors beyond comprehension and meaning.
As I entered junior college women's lounge,
Linda intensely relayed that the President had
Been shot. My instant denying response,
"The president of what?" followed by crushing
Reality that our captain, hero, contemporary savior
Had been mortally wounded, assassinated, slain;
Dallas Police Officer J. D. Tippit also murdered;
And Texas governor Connolly seriously wounded.
Innocence also slain, which must necessarily occur,
But too often unexpected, suddenly glaring, ripping
And wrenching away illusion of safety and well-being.
Many defining moments followed initial disorientation:
Civil Rights struggles; 60,000 deaths in Vietnam;
Chicago Democratic Convention; Woodstock.
And many more crushing, incomprehensible losses:
Martin, Bobby, and Malcolm; Janis and Jimmy;
Evers, Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner; and more.
Innocence must be shattered so that joy can be fully known.
Valuing these two opposites, and holding all other opposites,
Yields defining, difficult challenges informing consciousness.
Breathe in and breathe out; smile and cry, smile and cry.
Ann Beth Blake
(c) November 22, 2013