What happened to grandmothers
sent away to grow old
in the privacy of other old people
with pain in their legs
and noise in their ears
while their children were too busy to notice
the dying light around them?
And fathers too, and big brothers and sisters
corralled with their toys, in their rooms
communal goals far from their keyboards?
And the old man in the neighborhood
who could bring history
alive just by pointing
to that building
at the corner
of your life
and that of all the others
who came before you?
How is a girl to know that she is pretty enough and smart enough to
be desired and to desire, if she doesn't hear her dreams in the voice of her elders?
How is a boy tested and told how to hold back, to be gentle
to those who need him; to be tough with himself, that what he senses as power
doesn't entitle him to own anyone, or to demand anything that isn't given freely to him?
How do we tell folks to walk a straight line among the rubble when the lights have been turned off and everyone is alone to find their guiding soul?