Utah Phillips said “The long memory is the most radical idea in this country. It is the loss of that long memory which deprives our people of that connective flow of thoughts and events that clarifies our vision, not of where we’re going, but where we want to go”. Now we can take Utah as a man of his country or a man of his class. As an American or as an anarchist. The long memory is something we are all grasping at.
We, who have a history of struggle to draw on, but nothing firm to grip for our draw. Reaching, pulling, reaching, searching. There is a pain from our void and a cry from our anguish. Oxygen to a drowning woman, rushing, filling, soothing, stinging. We must breathe in our struggle. Absorb life into each cell.
We crave life.
We crave joy.
We crave release.
Each word, each line, each song, each novel. These are our footholds. Our handles. The pencils we have carved, from the roots of our pain, through the body of our blood, to the branches of our future. We carve our own tools. With these we can draw. Draw on a long memory. Sketch in our voids. Vividly painted in love, we see.
I see back to the women and men whose words I clung to, who bled poetry for me to drink in the dark. I feel for the women and men, whose calloused hands pulled me from under. I grasp and I cling.
They sing to me. And I swim.
I break through. I drink in the nourishment. The power and the joy. I float in the slipstream, their sunlight it warms. It wakes and it burns. It feeds, consumes and it burns. I can scream. I scream to my sisters and to daughters unborn. I run to my brothers, my son will be forewarned.
I see to the door. And I leave it just ajar.
And when the quiet comes I remember
“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation”.
What Oscar awoke was acceptance, who knew it slept here?
“You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right.”
This one was the quiet nod from across the room. Not silent, Bob, but knowing and watching, singing and strumming.
“We negotiate with chaos
For some sense of satisfaction
If you won’t give it to me
At least give me a better view”
And Ani. Dear, dear Ani. Bleeding pools into shadows on a cave wall.
But she who has held me so often, without, I would just fall. A beautiful rage, her Skin shining, a beacon to that door.
“I’d like to invite you
To this pretty little thing
Where the fruits of your labors
Are eaten by the queen
Yeah I’d like to bequest you
A seat with greedy boys
But I’m sorry,
I’ma stop you, at the door”