Wade in the water, Wade in the water children. Wade in the water God’s gonna trouble the water
I gather my Strength in a place where people have no choice but to come through the door wearing a full armor suit's worth of it.
I fold the Strength up into my arms like a little child, his legs dangling over the sides, as I stare at the front door and envision it three hours from now. Swinging. Swinging. Bringing in Hope, Carrying Out Heartache. Bringing in Heartache, Carrying it Out Again.
Right now the space is deserted. Empty but Loud. Creaking with its Emptiness. Let the King Hand of the Clock Round the Courtyard and 60 Royal Seconds Three More Times and then watch as this place fills with a Concordance Of Faces that know Promise, Angst and Hard Work but very little English.
It has become almost ritualistic. My slipping from beneath the white covers at 5a.m. to walk down 2 flights of stairs and find a spot to sit, Curled Up, in the middle of an Immigration Center. Not many people can say that their living room doubles as a heartbeat to hundreds of people within the inner city.
The center pulses at this time. The Sun has not even begun to stir or think about hitting snooze on her alarm clock but already the Immigration Center & I are drawing up Strength for the morning. Strength for the sun and the way the door will swing in just a few hours. Even the walls are beginning to speak; I am certain that if I hold my ear up to just one of them I will fall deep into the telling of Ten Thousand Stories.
I did not fully meet Strength up until this year. Only heard about Strength from other people but never really saw it in action so fully until I began calling this borough, "home." Strength does anything but take up a resting spot in this place. It sits in the classrooms of this Immigration Center, upon the faces of individuals who are trying desperately to remember Letters on a Chalkboard. They know full and well that Language has Edges & Angles in this Country, not so much like the cushioned space in their mothers' arms. Strength sits in the classroom, and in a church, and in a line for the food pantry or the seats of the 4 train that carry these people and their Tired Soles to their Jobs.
Jobs that pay $7.50 an hour. Not enough to feed the family of five or keep a mother from the fear of teetering over into welfare. The people of the Bronx are still rallying like in the days of Dr. King to fight for a living wage. A Living Wage. A Wage That Allows Them To Live.
There is so much that I don't understand. A lot that makes me uncomfortable. A lot that I will never again be able to hold my cheek away from. I guess we reach a point where we can never turn away again. Never Walk Away Again. But Still, There Is So Much I Cannot Change. So Much I Cannot Process.
It makes a girl wonder, as she sits cross-legged in the middle of a Immigration Center that Pulses So Loud: What am I to do today? Why am I here? How come I am the one who will get to walk away?
Pack up my bags come June. Wave farewell to a Borough that Learned to Burrow A Break In My Heart, and sink back into a life that doesn't yield a $25 a week stipend. But a Career. A Career that Provides Much More than Just a Living Wage.
It is here, in these quiet moments when the Bronx is still stretching her arms and readying herself for the day, that I realize that Love is my only option. It's not technologically savvy. It is not resume worthy. It doesn't take experience in HTML or CSS Coding. It is not something we even want to mention anymore unless we are standing knee-deep in the card aisle at Hallmark. But its all that matters. Loving. Loving until it hurts. Until it shatters our souls into a million little pieces. Perhaps it is not the desired solution of this world, but it is what keeps me intact, what keeps me holding the hands of preschoolers that I want so much for, what keeps me staring into the eyes of young children on the UNICEF posters whispering promises to them that one day they will be So Much More than Just Poster Children.
Love until it hurts. Love After it Hurts. Keep Loving, even when it would be so much easier to just walk away.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, he had this dream. It was Deeply Rooted in the American Dream, the same one that is still not within the grasps of each body that claims this soil as home. He had this dream to turn the jangling discords of this nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
One day, I think to myself.
One day we might just hear that Symphony.
Together will begin with the slow start-up of a cello. Equality will join in with the violin. An Acceptance Trio will begin to hum. Acceptance of Color. Acceptance of Religion. Acceptance of Sexuality. Justice will enter in on the piano. And Peace will sit atop the piano that Justice plays and she will look around and smile. She will shimmy from the side of the piano and step up to the microphone after a few chords.
"Brothers and sisters," she will sing. "Get up, get up, it's time to get up."
The microphone spans a couple thousand miles.
"Get up and dance. Get up and swing, children." Peace will Sing. Peace Will Sing.
And we all will stand, lace up our shoes and begin to shuffle towards the dance floor. Shuffling. Shimmying. Holding Hands.You with Me. Me with You.
Fox Trot. Box Step.
Shaking Our Hips to a Symphony of Brotherhood.