Remembering and Reckoning

“Until That Day: What Are We?”

A first draft, April 17, 2021 of a poem in response to Yehuda Amichai’s “And Who Will Remember the Rememberers?” (associated with Israel’s Memorial Day, 4th of Iyar) — V. Spatz


“Until That Day: What Are We?”

Verses for a Day We Don’t Yet Have,

have yet to acknowledge we need.

Generations of memory-veterans stagger

with weights carried by elders and ancestors

and boulders we watch children try to bear.

The current generation of fresh loss has members

of ripe old age who mourn alongside children

some still in a school team’s bright colors.

Who, beyond the circles of near loss, acknowledge the rememberers?

//

How does a monument come into being?

A bullet shatters a life and a lamppost sprouts

flowers and stuffed animals, balloons and banners.

A mirror’s adornment or a headlight’s unblinking stare

lead onto a road some call “hope,” but too many know as “dread.”

Vigil upon vigil and protest unending, the battle never recedes,

and tears rarely dry in some communities

while others pause now and then to note the numbers

maybe read the names.

But who, beyond the circles of near loss, acknowledge the remembers?

And where is that national day of reckoning

as yet unimagined?

//

How would we stand on such a day?

Erect or stooped, in mourning or guilt.

Collective protest of death lost in recognition

of our long participating in a system that kills.

//

Every joyful birth sends another child into a jumble,

a landscape lush with potential deaths:

“They looked suspicious.” “I thought it was my taser.”

“I feared for my life.” “I gave 12 seconds of thought.”

When, beyond the circles of near loss, will we truly acknowledge

Adam Toledo, James Lionel Johnson, Dominique Williams,

Rakia Boyd, Terrence Sterling, Anthony Louis,

LaQuan McDonald, India Kager, Oscar Grant,

Archie Williams, Gary Hopkins Jr., Alonzo Fiero Smith…

Can we ever truly mourn and still continue to live

in a system that kills this way?

Until we all remember the rememberers

until we all stand in a day of reckoning,

what are we?

Honoring a Teacher: Hadiya Pendleton

Hadiya Z. Pendleton liked Fig Newtons and performed in a drill team that participated in Obama’s 2013 Inaugural parade. She lived in the Kenwood neighborhood of Chicago, not far from where I lived for several years and where friends still live, not far from the Obama family home. She never reached her 16th birthday, which would have been on June 2. She was gunned down on January 29 [2013], in a public park at 45th & Drexel, apparently caught in a gang-related shooting.
Continue reading Honoring a Teacher: Hadiya Pendleton