Summer’s dusk is welcomed by the trilling of the cicada, a sound that takes me back to my childhood. Back to the days I, a prepubescent pre-teen, sat on the steps with my big sister, harmonizing the song Falling in Love Again. Back to the days where sitting on the front steps of our old family home, listening to music was a favorite pastime.
Birdsong welcomes spring’s rising sun and in those early hours when the peeps, chirrups and chirps of the birds are the loudest, I am returned to my childhood bedroom. I am lying in my bed, listening to the birds. A cool spring breeze carries their song to me while caressing my cheek. My old bedroom was at the back of the house, on the second floor. My bedroom window looked out onto the backyard and the tree that separated our family home from my grandma’s house. Sometimes the birds seemed so close because of the tree. Birdsong is my natural alarm clock in the spring.
Spring is my favorite season. Is that why I listen so intensely for birdsong? I do not know if birds sing to greet the rise of the sun during the cold winter months. It may be because I dislike the cold or maybe because I am too wrapped up in my thoughts to notice. Or maybe there are too few birds to make a chorus and I can only hear the solo songs of those that do not fly south in winter.
Winter is the season of the crow. It is the call of the crow that precedes the sun’s dim lit rise, shielded by the steel clouded sky. Their caws are carried on the biting wind, loud and creaky like a tree protesting the weight of snow on its slender elongated branches.
Spring is the season of renewal, a season for fresh and new beginnings. Birdsong is the sound of spring and green is its color. Tree limbs begin to bud new leaves. The grass changes from its wintry honey blonde to a vibrant green. Flowers begin to bloom.
I remember as a child while walking to the bus stop, I would stop and admire the morning glories growing on the fence beside a vacant lot. Their stems twined and entangled in the chain link, wrapping around the forked prongs along the fence’s top. Their trumpet shaped flowers in full bloom, purple and white, intermingled. Delicate petals covered in dew drops like tears on eyelashes.
I cannot remember when I stopped listening for the sound of spring. I cannot remember when I stopped admiring dew-dropped morning glories or when I stopped tasting the sweet nectar of honeysuckle, all the things I had done in my childhood. Maybe my ears became deaf and my eyes blind when my innocence was lost. Maybe these things became frivolous musings when the clouds of shame took root in my soul.
Now, though, I can hear birdsong again. Now it has again become my natural alarm clock. I wish I could see a morning glory, its petals opened wide, face turned upwards, smiling at the sun, dew drops resting on petals of purple and white. Maybe if I see one, it would be a sign from the heavens saying everything is ok. A confirmation that I am on the right path of this healing journey.
Shame is a crow. It still resides within me. It still spreads its dark wings and flaps off the cobwebs of painful memory. It makes sure I am aware of its presence, however, its weight is not as heavy. The crow is becoming less of a burden. I can feel the difference. I can hear the difference because I can hear the morning chorus of the birds. I can hear the tweets, chirrups and twitter of birdsong, welcoming the morning sun. It is a sound…the sound…of hope.
flames, burning, ravaging my soul.
It overtakes all of me
as I melt
On June 1st a flower was born. Was it a rose? A carnation? No, nothing as fancy as that. She was a wildflower with a sturdy stalk, growing in the weeds of the city. You know, the kind young children would pick and arrange and present as gifts to their moms or their childhood crushes. The earth mother tried to nurture her and show her the way, but she was a wild child, destined for the hard life.
Her petals were fragile. She had long learned to hide their fragility. Turning her face to the sun for nourishment and hanging her head in the rain, using the droplets to disguise her tears. Always showy, she smiled upon those around her, often offering an ear for their problems and a hug to share in their pain. Who would share her pain? No one.
She was stoic as the storms tried to beat her down. Her petals became tattered in places, but her heart remained steady. She was fertilized by a myriad of pollinators. Some stole from her, her kindness. Others, gently, tried to soothe. All left their marks. Can you see her?
There she stands, before a backdrop of dilapidated buildings, in the midst of a jungle of concrete blocks and broken glass, discarded beer bottles and crushed cans. Who has the courage to walk through the weeds to take her hand, to share and stand in her pain? Who has the courage.
This is an article I wrote for my employer’s newsletter.
Independence Day: The Success of Protest
By Meka R Brown
On July 4, 1776 delegates from the 13 colonies met and adopted the Declaration of Independence. This historical event followed the success of the American colonists’ defeat of the British troops in the Revolutionary War. The war was preceded by several protests over taxation.
In 1765 the Stamp Act was imposed on the American colonies. Those colonists most affected protested in the streets which sometimes turned into violent riots. The protests and rioting led to a meeting between those in power and the opposition of the tax and ended with the Stamp Act being repealed in 1766.
The Townshend Acts were a series of taxes imposed on the colonies in 1767. Taxes were levied on British goods like china, glass, paper, lead and paint. The colonists decided to boycott the purchase of these goods and protest the taxes by vandalizing stored British goods. After the Boston Massacre in 1770, most of the Townshend acts were repealed. Tea was the only exception.
In protest of the tea tax, the colonists refused to purchase British tea and smuggled in Dutch tea, which caused Britain to impose the Tea Act. This new tea tax caused the protesters to board ships owed by the British East India Company and throw several hundred chests of tea into the water. This protest known as the Boston Tea Party would be the last protest leading into the Revolutionary War.
Our independence as a nation was built on the power of protest. Protests have been held for women’s rights, voting rights, civil rights, anti-war, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, immigration, and so many other issues. During these trying times in the wake of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Armaud Arbery, protesting can once again effect change as the protests in the late 1700s did for this country.
Currently our country is in crisis with the Covid-19 pandemic, Black Lives Matter protests and loss of jobs, but all is not lost. Just as our country has prevailed in other times of crisis, it shall prevail this time. As you celebrate freedom and Independence Day do not hang your head in hopelessness, instead raise your head in hope. This nation is built on dreams and no matter how hard the struggle or how violent the fight, dreams do come true.
As the world explodes, yet again, I am left feeling uncomfortable in my silence.
I am from St. Louis, MO, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, home to the Arch and the city where the Ferguson Uprising occurred.
During those days in 2014, I held a different view. I, like many people still do today, focused more on the destruction of property and the looting. But as time progressed and I began to see the same scenarios being played out over again and again, of black men and women being killed by the police and/or in police custody, my view began to change.
It was Philando Castile’s death, on Facebook Live, that completed my cycle of change. That day I reached my breaking point. Listening to him take his last breaths while watching as he leans back, slowly, T-shirt stained with blood, I reached my breaking point. My chest filled with the weight of that scene and all the others. My throat closed up around the fist enclosed within it. I began to sob, uncontrollably, and anyone who knows me, knows I hate to cry. And although my body was filled with all that pain, I still remained silent. Deaths continued to occur. Atatiyanna Jefferson, Botham Jean and the list continued to grow and I remained silent.
Now it’s 2020 and Breonna Taylor was killed, then George Floyd. Everyone has seen the video. A man, a black man, lying on his stomach, with a knee in his neck. Not any knee, but a knee belonging to a police officer. I hear him repeatedly say, “I can’t breathe.” Is this Eric Garner all over again? And the officer remains planted on his neck, hands in his pocket, indifferent to the struggle for air from the man beneath him. An officer indifferent to taking this man’s life and obviously indifferent to the repercussions his actions would have. And now, I can no longer sit comfortably in my silence.
I have been quiet for too long. Maybe it’s out of fear. Obviously out of fear. I even made a Facebook post about it. That post states…
“I almost never post about such times as these. I didn’t want to argue with the “trolls,” whose sole intent and purpose is to say hurtful, hateful and ignorant things. I was afraid of how I would be seen, of losing friends, and of alienating myself because of my views…my silence has been complicit.
“Now here we are again, yet again and I can no longer stand by silently. No longer can I worry about arguing or alienating myself or alienating others. No longer can I worry about losing “so-called” friends or how I will be seen because of my views. Now it’s time for me…to help my community fight for what has long been denied.”
Today I decided to choose courage. Today I decided would be the day I make my very first blog post on a blog I’ve had for five years. Today is the day I feel the fear and do it anyway.
Photo by Taylor Simpson on Unsplash