Phoenix From Rain

"To have dominion was not to knock out, downpress, bruise, but to understand, to love, make at home." — Toni Cade Bambara, The Salt Eaters

I have a lot of things I think
I say. Now is the time to act.
Now is the time to act
by speaking. Now is the time
to speak by evicting the words
that have choked me. Now the words
rage, barbed wire and razor cross,
released to unfold denial. From violence
grow wings.

I see concrete steps and wilderness,
hear gunshots on the Fourth of July,
listen to the words I speak.
This is not about me
even as it is. The ruined Earth
unfolds as we wake. Some of us wake
with a start, a gunshot, with PTSD. Some of us
wake slowly. Some of us walk in dreams
constructed of digital bits of money
rooted in blood and abuse. Some of us refuse
to wake, and miss the sun traveling, 
clouds gathering, thunderstorms, stillness after
thunderstorms, the slow momentum of summer
regenerating, slick with heat.

We must welcome our children more.
We must demand more time for devotion.
We must throw acid into the economic gears
that corrode community, that abuse us
by siphoning time, bind our freedom of
movement into paychecks and send our productivity
into fat stacks of hoarded ill-gotten gains.

We must resist more, strengthen ourselves in dialogue
and silence. We must not be afraid
to speak, to be wrong, to argue and apologize.
We have too little time to stay trapped
in McCastles. We have too much to offer
to accept poverty. We must resist more,
together, redistribute resources, risk.

I imagine a cracked sidewalk with sunflowers
growing up. A swingset. I imagine
we let our children run together
and it's awkward at first but then
children crash and laugh together
and bicker as children do. And
we can come together in their presence,
accept innocence as a bridge
since all the bridges we've ever had
have been built on inequity
and must be destroyed. But I see
other ways emerging, seedlings rising
when thunderstorms don't ever seem to stop.
I'll plant more. I'll be out here,
in the rain, planting. Because it feels good
to plant, because it is healing.

My wounds are not as cruel as yours.
I cannot tend to your wounds. I lack skill,
and my wounds need my attention, too. We are more
than our wounds. We may need to bind them in private,
but we come together to abolish property and poverty
through getting to know each other. Through
the tumble of history, we can steady our hands. Work.

When all the blinds and shutters open,
when the doors are taken off hinges
and we are left with openings,
we will begin to see each other,
hear each other speaking. The noise will be
great. When the wind and rain touch us,
when we have no walled shelter,
will we shelter each other?
Will we rebuild? Will we ever rebuild?

The winds of history wash over us.
We can move or drown. We can move
artfully, pulling ourselves up with the wind,
riding the current of presence.

Charles Dickey is a writer, social worker and father.