This IS Us

Yesterday was a day when two pieces of news mashed up in my brain just before bedtime. The first is the New Yorker article about the conditions in a detention centre for separated children in Clint, Texas. You can read it in full, and I do urge you to do so, here. (https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/inside-a-texas-building-where-the-government-is-holding-immigrant-children.) The other piece of news was an op-ed about how Brexit could potentially break one of the tenets of the Belfast Treaty demanding that those born in Northern Ireland choose to be either British or Irish, which is potentially inflammatory. Again, please read it in full here.(https://www.euronews.com/2019/02/15/brexit-is-airbrushing-my-rights-under-the-good-friday-agreement-out-of-history-view.)

So this is where my mind was when it came to take up my pen this morning.

This is Us This Being Both

I can hold more than one thought
in the same minute.
Like checking the weather for the weekend,
what to pack, remember to buy toothpaste,
sparing a section of my brain
for some little brown child in Clint, Texas
who doesn't have a toothbrush,
much less soap, toothpaste, or bed.
It's bedtime and some talking head says,
" This isn't us!"
Except, friend, it is.
We can be both
high-minded and complicit
in low-down deeds.
What has anyone of us done today
for that child with lice, snotty nose
and a dirty diaper more than days old?
No. We are not very nice.

Everything is conspiring to make us
choose just one thing,
like toddlers offered a treat.
UK passport? Or Irish one?
As if hundreds of years of being both
will be erased by
making everyone squeeze like sausage meat
into a single, someone else's skin.
Will those little brown children now
ever want to identify as American?

We betray no one by being complicated
or even as conflicted
as love.
Most just want to do the day,
running down their list
with someone who might want to touch them
in kindness, if not love.
Even if that someone is
full of contradiction,
like the kindly grampus who pared apples
for you when his missus babysat,
but also said the N word
which Mommy said was very bad.

Maybe then someone who might just
look past all those labels
not demand single brand loyalty.
This is not who you think we are?
But this IS us.
Yes, this is us.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.