I owe the title of this entry to one of my favorite KC poets, Steven Senter. He laments being able to count in decades. I see his point: the fullness of time descends upon us. But I raise him one: time continues to tick for us, which at least as far as the wonder which this world provides, cannot be wholly lamented.
Yesterday I glided past five teenagers walking arm in arm. From the distance, their individuality faded. Lean and lanky, wearing identical shirts, about thirteen years old, they could have been either gender, any race, from any part of town. As I drew closer, I could see that they were all boys. One held a stick which he dragged along the sidewalk. Another cradled books; two wore backpacks. They sauntered towards one of the neighborhood’s several schools. They looked like an ad for the United Nations in a rainbow of skin color.
I count my life in decades. Five decades ago, children of varying skin hue would not have strolled down McLaran Avenue in Jennings towards my elementary school. We had one family join the parish during my eighth grade year that tried to integrate the grade school. Their effort failed. When I crossed the parking lot to start high school, nothing had changed. As an outcast myself, I sought refuge among the black kids, who welcomed me without rancor. The rest of the school rewarded my choice of friends with an even greater shunning than my status as the crippled sister of hippies had already garnered.
As I drove beyond those boys yesterday, the lively smiles on their faces stayed with me. I, too, feel the fullness of time. More, I feel the lack of progress that the world has made in my time here. But on a mild fall day, in Brookside, five children took an unwitting stand in favor of the ages. I bore their joy all the way to work.
If you want to follow Steven Senter’s occasional poetry posts, you may do so HERE.