Tuesday, October 25, 2011
no wonder i was crying, instantly, amidst tear gas
and guns i recognized as guns, but different
knowing the bullets were rubber, meant to terrify
not meant to kill, but to control.
policemen brandishing riot gear, "protecting" themselves from us, gentle Us
on the other side of the barricade
while behind them, in the distance,
workers from a sci-fi movie, wearing white full-body suits
sifted through the remains of an encampment that stood for freedom.
i asked them, the men in uniforms, if they remembered ever being hungry, ever being poor,
if they remembered their parents working hard, but never having enough
if they were immigrants
or if their family members were unemployed, or had cancer.
i asked them if they heard me, if they were ordered not to answer.
they stood like statues. i couldn't see their eyes.
i asked them if they had hearts. how they felt. if they knew that what they were doing was wrong.
who knows what their eyes were doing?
i asked them what they thought of their fellow police in albany, ny, who refused to arrest occupiers.
who knows what their hearts were doing?
they were still.
finally, i stared at one of them real long and hard.
a corner of his mouth turned up just slightly
and i laughed and cheered and yelled,
"did you just smile? i knew you had a heart! i knew it was in there! that's what i was talking about before!
i love that smile! smile again! don't make me flirt with you, cutie, you look good when you smile!"
he stonefaced again before that stubborn corner of his mouth turned up once more,
i looked around me, and other people were smiling.
even the boy whose eyes had been red the whole time, who was silent and sad,
whose face said he knew he had lost something, that we had all lost something.
farther away, i found friends.
and soon after, looking over the heads of the crowd
saw batons, like crude machinery
moving up and down
and gas, that i was far enough away from that my eyes and nose but tickled.
when the sound cannons (that is what they were) went off
and tears filled my eyes
my friend caleb placed a hand on my back
which felt nice, like he was holding my heart in place
because i thought it would escape my body, it was pounding so hard.
we marched then
because we didn't know what else to do
and a stranger who became a friend pulled a tank top out of her overstuffed backpack
handed it to me
to cover my face with.
we marched around town.
we didn't know who we were following
we weren't sure where we were going
but we knew we were together.
at oscar grant plaza
they taunted us
told us we were breaking the law
when all we were doing
was standing on the sidewalk and feeling things, saying things.
being human. on the earth.
we walked more. again. together. the best sounds to be heard at a direct action:
"hi! how are you? i haven't seen you in so long!"
"whose streets? our streets!"
i left, apparently, before the second round of teargas began.