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Another sad day in America
I learned about yesterday’s tragedy while sitting in my car at Beanie’s school, waiting to pick her up. It was a really hot day, and when the schoolroom doors opened she ran out carrying her lunch bag, backpack, and the icepack she had brought to school that morning. She proudly showed me that it was still frozen, and proceeded to place it on her forehead to try to give herself “brain freeze.”
I don’t have anything special or wise to say today, but I will forever remember where I was when I heard about Uvalde, picking up my daughter who is just a bit younger than the children who died yesterday.
I want to think we have turned a corner on what we won’t tolerate in gun violence, but I’ve thought that before, after Sandy Hook, and then again and again. We have turned so many corners it feels we are trapped in an M.C. Escher maze of our own making, retreading the same ground while slowly going mad.
I would like to be hopeful, but right now I am not. I am just sad for the parents who have lost their children.
By the way, let’s try to be kind and supportive to the educators and staff at our children’s schools, paid criminally low wages, to be our children’s guides, mentors, protectors, and now—in this day in America—bodyguards. (Let’s be supportive of them always, but especially this week.) We’ve really asked a lot of them, these past two years of pandemic and scrambling in and out of Zoom life.
The older I get, the more I realize how much my teachers influenced the trajectory of my life, for good or for bad. The really great ones are priceless; they affect so many students throughout their careers. We should be compensating them far, far more.
And here is a poem for you today.
Try to praise the mutilated world
Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
—Adam Zagajewski. Translated by Clare Cavanagh.