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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

panthers, crows and sparrows

The river is almost frozen over. Wind whips across the ice each morning as we tiptoe along the uneven sidewalk and make our way to school. E makes small desperate noises, sometimes just stopping until she feels like she can move again. My legs lock up when I am about to fall, hands jumping wildly for balance.
We feel the same.

The man with the accordion is out again playing that same song. I try to remember how many times I have written about his blank stare, the same chipper melody. He is unstoppable. My irritation has waned, and now I welcome the light rumble of his instrument as we make our way through the bright tunnel he plays in. 
His familiar face sits beneath a new hat. 
I wonder if he notices us after years of passing him.
My thoughts run to the day we will leave here, and if I will remember him. This accordion player is paralyzed, like one of Rilke's panthers. The world outside of this place may not exist to him. I know that when I am not here, it becomes an impossible place within a matter of days, a place that cannot be imagined. The snow and filth, these blank faces cannot remain. They become charcoal sketches in an old book. They are never real to me in some way. I am not here, I tell myself. I am not here.

"At mom's house there are crows." E says to me after a long silence. "But at our house there are sparrows."
I nod, showing I am listening.
"I like sparrows." She continues. "They are so sweet."
"Yes they are." I say.
"And crows eat garbage." E says, wrinkling her nose.









Comments

liv said…
And there they are - the sparrows.
She's a little sparrow, so sweet.

Someday it WILL all be like a dream. I hope she only remembers the good parts, then.
I hope you too only remember the good parts, Marco.

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