I Was Meant Truly To Sing

Alice Walker
Alice Walker

“Until you do right by me, everything you think about is going to crumble.”

Celie in The Color Purple

Turning Madness Into Flowers #1

By Alice Walker

If my sorrow were deeper
I’d be, along with you, under
the ocean’s floor;
but today I learn that the oil
that pools beneath the ocean floor
is essence
residue
remains
of all our
relations
all
our ancestors who have died and turned to oil
without our witness
eons ago.
We’ve always belonged to them.
Speaking for you, hanging, weeping, over the water’s edge
as well as for myself.
It is our grief
heavy, relentless,
trudging
us, however resistant,
to the decaying and rotten
bottom of things:
our grief bringing
us home.

 


There are voices in poetry that seem connected, as if arising from one spirit.  Alice Walker’s poetry strikes me as prayers that are deeply connected to a broader literary pantheon while being at the same time distinctly hers. I remember when The Color Purple came out and the book and the movie were resplendent in its story telling.  So different is the experiences depicted from my own, I was inspired moved, but was I changed? Were we changed as a society?   I believe so.  Literature and poetry have the ability to change our perspectives.  But at the same time, I realize simply seeing racism or the lasting scars of slavery, or being moved by the courage of individuals that stand up to unfairness doesn’t change the institutions that still perpetuate inequality.   Black lives matter is a movement to remind us we have not arrived at the destination, we are still on the journey and have a long way to go.

I was sitting on a plane from Tampa to Minneapolis recently next to a thoughtful experienced educator and we were discussing the achievement gap in public schools in Minnesota between students of color and their white counterparts.  Neither of us had an answer or a solution, other than let’s not be afraid of the conversation and the reality of what the data says and be open to ideas on how to do better. It’s a frustrating thing that when despite good intentions and focus, societal and educational problems get worse, not better. The human experience is a humbling one.  Thank goodness we have poets like Walker to pull us together and remind us to sing.


Before I Leave The Stage

By Alice Walker

Before I leave the stage
I will sing the only song
I was meant truly to sing.

It is the song
of I AM.
Yes: I am Me
&
You.
WE ARE.

I love Us with every drop
of our blood
every atom of our cells
our waving particles
-undaunted flags of our Being-
neither here nor there.

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations.

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