WATCHING MY GRANDDAUGHTER’S GYMNASTICS CLASS
WHILE CONGRESS DEBATES AR-15s
By Andrew Hidas
Everything to live for,
gamboling like lambs
tall grasses of spring.
Parents on their phones
up above, a half-eye at
most diverted from Facebook,
the glowing faces
of their daughters
lost in the jumble of
“He shot my friend that was next to me and I thought
he was going to come back to the room, so I grabbed
the blood and put it all over me.”
That was Miah the other day,
testifying to a House committee
on the trickery she used to save
her life, though what nightmares still
await that life we can only, grimly,
“Sweet Miah,” Uvalde’s only pediatrician
called her, trailing off at the same hearing
after describing the scene at the school
he too had attended
in the sunny long ago:
“Two children, whose bodies had been
by the bullets fired at them,
whose flesh had
that the only clue as to their identities
were the blood-spattered cartoon clothes
still clinging to them.”
Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call…
“When 9/11 happened, we didn’t ban planes.
We secured the cockpit.”
That was one House Member’s proposal to
protect future Sweet Miahs,
joined by a Senate colleague’s plan to
“create a nationwide database of school safety practices.”
As for bills addressing
the “well-regulated” militia of our
they have been appraised as
Dead on Arrival,
impervious to the sanctity of our filibuster.
Sorry, Sweet Miah,
our thoughts & prayers are with you
who didn’t arrive home that day,
and won’t on any day,
and whose blood you have borne.
Consider it your Second Amendment Baptism
into this world of fire.
How many deaths will it take till we know, that too many people have died?
I see my granddaughter bathed in gold,
nothing metaphorical about it,
the late spring sun pouring through the
gym windows and blessing her incipient
leap into the known world of padded mats,
where her safety is paramount and
her seeking supported
by a world of caring adults
who do what adults have
always done in creating
havens for their young.
I can only imagine, so I do,
(but sparingly; we can bear
only so much), the thought
of her own glow,
grown so brightly from inside,
an 8-year-old monument to
purity of heart,
someday blasted and bloodied
beyond recognition because a
dark and unloved young man,
too young for beer, was
granted rights to an arsenal
that denies her very right to life,
the flames of hell claiming
another as their own while
Congress fiddles and watches
In my less dour moments,
which on this issue seem few,
I imagine some Great Wakeup,
a startle reflex kicking in,
a sudden wailing and gnashing of teeth
as the fetishists realize the cost of
freedom with zero responsibility,
unfettered and unmoored to the
barest hint of decency or reason.
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?
Or a voting public that
pauses long enough to
consider the children
and all the other innocents snuffed out
in a slaughter of epidemic proportions,
whose costs have soared so far beyond
the inflation rate and every other concern
distracting us from the essence of
life and death
as to attack the very
foundations of our identity as a truly
free people, with that freedom belonging
to everyone, in equal measure,
constrained not by weapons of war but
by the common civility of
I and Thou,
all of us endowed with certain inalienable
Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of
in a spirit of mutual regard.
Deep appreciation to the photographers! Unless otherwise stated, some rights reserved under Creative Commons licensing.
Elizabeth Haslam, whose photos (except for the books) grace the rotating banner at top of page.
Library books photo by Larry Rose, all rights reserved, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gymnastics photos by Andrew Hidas https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewhidas/
Song snippets in bold by Bob Dylan: (“The Times They Are a Changin” and “Blowin’ in the Wind”) and Pete Seeger (“Where Have All the Flowers Gone”)
“I and Thou” is a 1923 book by the Austrian-born Israeli/Jewish philosopher Martin Buber
Readers aware of the recent birth of my grandson might note it is my step-granddaughter referred to above, but no less the precious for that distinction
Check out this blog’s public page on Facebook for 1-minute snippets of wisdom and other musings from the world’s great thinkers and artists, accompanied by lovely photography.
I am devastated, ashamed, and furious. The pain, agony, and suffering is unspeakable. The horror of this nightmare is unbearable.
You have a lot of equally anguished company in that place, Dawn, including me. “Unspeakable” hits particularly close to home, since I hesitated mightily in hitting the “Publish” button on this post, fearing that people have had quite enough of this issue and feel so powerless to affect it that they just long to move on elsewhere, to a more sane place in their psyche. But then I realized, again (because I have to keep imploring myself), that speak we must, again and again, as you have here, if change is ever to come. Thanks for doing so.
It is a challenge to find the balance that enables us to sleep at night, smile and laugh with a child, enjoy a walk in the glory of Mother Nature, while at the same time grieving, outraged, angry, and utterly incensed with the madness of the carnage.
Hello my friend. I’m late to the conversation. Just thought I’d drop in to say a sad hello in light not only of this horror in Texas but the horror on our tv screens of damning evidence of the attempted coup d’etat on January 6 and the latest horror of a draconian Supreme Court condemning us all to live in a rapidly unfolding theocracy. It all makes me weary, and makes me long for another shore, another port of safety and sanity as our precious nation descends more quickly than I ever imagined. We are planning to leave this dying nation within the next few years. America is lost. There are so many healthier and safer nations on this planet to live out my remaining years. Be well, stay safe and make smart choices.
David, I’m very glad you stopped by to share this. I’ve spent the weekend prepping a piece on the Tao Te Ching in relation to all we are facing now. None too sure it will be of any solace to you, but maybe check in again and give it a look. Can’t say I haven’t thought exactly as you have described here any number of times over the months and years of this evolving nightmare that nearly half the nation refuses to see. I suspect stepping way back to take a much longer view may be the only way to navigate these years, which may well get worse before they get better, if they get better at all. Who knows where it all ends and it may end badly, but sometimes that line from The Mamas & Papas—”the darkest hour is just before the dawn,” really is true. The trick is in knowing whether it is indeed the darkest hour, or it will get darker still. We shall see, but do keep in touch if you wind up on another shore. And be well, wherever it is!