An orchestra of conversations


“I never met any of my friends, of course, in a usual way—they were strangers, and lived only in their writings.”

Mary Oliver, from ‘My Friend Walt Whitman’


There are so many conversations at once. It’s a din orchestrated by inequality. I worry we can hear all the instruments at once. They form an interconnected melody. Which makes it ever so much more confusing. I know each instrument plays its role in the control. The supremacy held but by the few.

We’ve voted a bully into office on the promise of racism. The branded statement implies no part of a race in the building of a society. He uses power to create image. The same power that costs Blacks lives. While inequality fuels the smooth running of the machine. The insecurity ensures the wheels will continue to roll. And they’ve rolled already for hundreds of years. Within the marginalised groups you will hear voices that aren’t even heard by those whose company they keep.

And as I read words from 60 years ago they feel as fresh and raw as when written. When I hear the journey some have travelled to success I’m reminded what a rare feat they’ve made. But one that must be focused on for hope.

“… America is still the land of opportunity and that inequalities vanish before the determined will. The determined will is rare – at the moment, in this country, it is unspeakably rare – and the inequalities suffered by many are in no way justified by the rise of a few.”

Fifth Avenue, Uptown; a letter from Harlem. James Baldwin, 1960

And without these words or pioneers, I’d feel no hope at all. I listen to how they formed avant-garde groups with longing. And wish my own tribe weren’t so far away. Because in all this unrest it’s become harder each day. Harder to believe you make any difference. Add any voice to those who still seem lost in the complex conversation.

Naoisé 10th June 2020