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Shards of glass

February 12, 2009

I know this girl who lived in a village in Grenada and she told me about the glass that would wash up on the shores of the island, broken glass from bottles and other things that had been smoothed down by the salt of the sea.  In Oakland I find more glass in the street.  In Berkeley, the glass stays in the windows, between the yuppies in the bistros and the Asians in the noodle houses.  Homeless folks can feed off the warmth of the windows and in liberal Berkeley they’re not chased off the sidewalk, but there’s still no glass that stands between them and February cold.

In Oakland, I feel like most industrial towns, those windows are shattered.  What are we hiding?  Who are we fooling?  My imperfect heart longs to hear “We don’t like you for this” and “There’s no place for you here.”  Because in all this acceptance, in all these hyphenated words, I worry for honesty- just like salt worries down the shards in Grenada.  Just say that you’ve learned to hate, just tell me I’m not who you want me to be.  Speak to the darkness, because if you don’t, it can sneak up on us from behind.  

Don’t say equality like it’s a temple, speak to it like it’s a child- not a destination but a fleeting concept we must devote ourselves to chasing.  It will lead us to places we’d rather not go; our past, our future, downtown, out-of-town, past our parents, through our children, down rivers of tainted water and into cities left to fall.  If we ignore equality, we lose it, if we fence it in, we pervert it.  A child locked inside will never know life and equality kept in a block or two will wilt in its isolation.

On a cold day on the West Coast, I dream of walking along an island with a friend at hand: I run my fingers over a smoothed piece of glass that tells me time is endless and mankind is no more powerful than the salt in the sea.  Does my salt perfect or merely pacify?  Shards of glass can refract light into the darkest sewers- once glazed over they can get lost out among the sand.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. abby permalink
    February 19, 2009 4:03 pm

    in my coworker’s window sill rest smoothed out shards of glass from the bering sea. they look a lot like the treasure stones in grenada. i must wait until the sea unthaws to discover new alaskan shards of glass for myself. but something in me believes they exist. even though the idea of a beach seems unfathomable in these blizzardy moments. may you continue this search for beauty. for wholeness. amidst broken glass.

  2. MDBROWN permalink
    March 8, 2009 12:29 am

    It causes me to wonder WHY the self-doubt; and who WE are? Perhaps a sense of loss at coming home; leaving those you met behind? Is a difficult thing to get past: our inability to save everyone. You’ve done good; you will continue to; just let it happen.

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