From Caroline Knickmeier, Madison, WI
At the boat landing, I scurried from the canoe and turned to pull it on shore to make the exit easier on Dad. Instead, he had already risen to a full stand and flew like an arrow from the rear of the boat, landing in the water with a full body flop. Terrified, I froze, waiting for him to emerge. He sat up, gasping for breath, laughing. His camera and film were ruined. He was soaked, drenched. He knew there was no reason to yell at me, that my intention was pure. That’s how love is expressed.
From Delaney Costello, Dallas, TX
Lying on my bedroom floor, biting the cap of a Sharpie, I search my ceiling for a way to articulate four hundred years of oppression. Centuries of suffering don’t fit onto a poster board. I scroll through Facebook and find a cousin ranting about how privilege is a lie, how he “really doesn’t care.”
And what do you draw or say? A clenched fist? A three-word phrase? A King quote? Could any of them persuade people like him? I flip through a thesaurus and Malcolm X to find the perfect sound-bite. But if I can’t express myself to him, what’s the point?
The protest is in two hours and I have to finish this sign. I have to change at least one mind. I choose the expressions on their faces in better times: Elijah’s warmth, Breonna’s joy, George’s peace, and Ahmaud’s glee.
At the march, I find my voice and we voice our rage. “No justice, no peace, no racist police.” We’re strong, we’re powerful, we’re conveying our message. We walk two miles, our signs held high, and we stare down the passing cars. I pray none of them are like my cousin. We walk to city hall, and our voices are so heard that we can’t say a word. Police break the silence, start shouting orders.
“Back, back, back.” To the eighteenth century? We have power in numbers, but they have earplugs and handguns. Tear gas and targets. Suddenly they step back, the canisters high in the air. You should have seen their expressions.
From Michael Bishop, Moscow, ID
Last night someone borrowed my bike without asking. Yes, I’d indeed locked my bike here. It was stolen. I shrugged, then walked toward the store to retrieve my latest special order of Hawaiian papayas. I passed two police officers, lounging in their car, then doubled back to tell them about the bike. One said sometimes missing bikes do actually turn up. I should file a report at the station.
I kept walking. While I paid for my box of tropical gold, I asked a worker restocking the registers if he’d sell me some quarters for laundry. “Normally, no,” he said. “But since I’m the guy who gets to make that decision, sure. Right place at the right time.
Instead of returning via the alley, on impulse I redirected to the farmers’ market, where I happened upon a stall I’d heard legends about, a dizzying array of atomic peppers. Strolling away with a sack of enriched uranium, I wondered whether I should spend the afternoon finding a new pair of wheels.
Then something impossible caught my eye: a bike leaning against a newspaper machine. A green mountain bike. With a cargo rack. My bike. Unlocked! As I rolled the bike away, down the main drag of this North Idaho town lined with two-story brick buildings—a town where, thousands of miles from my island home, I’m supposed to blossom into a writer—I thought to myself, right place at the right time.
Art: Place, becoming Feeling. Feeling, becoming Place by Pace Taylor
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