This week, we welcome the second half of the the Bards of Yellow Wood, Daniel Summers to the blog. Come out and join the community this Sunday and be sure to bring along a book or some school supplies in exchange for a personalized poem!
I have this recurring dream. I’m on scaffolding looking at The Statue of Liberty. She is beautiful, almost organic: not human, more like a tree or wild stag overlooking its glen. I can feel her life, but it is old, above me in so many ways. Then I hear a gunshot and a hole tears into her side. I reach toward the wound, but I can’t help. Then more hands join me, an army of hands. We cover her and start building over the wound.
It can be a tough world. For many of us the news cycle, politics, and the stress of our jobs wear us down, break us apart a little at a time. If you are anything like me, you are afraid to admit just how tired you are, how close you are to being irrevocably overwhelmed. I used to think I was alone in this, but since I have been writing poetry for people at the Bridgeport Farmers’ Market I have realized that we all hurt a little, we are all vulnerable. But, that has not been my takeaway. Instead, I have come to believe that people are mighty. As a whole, we rise above adversity.
This summer I have written poems for people about new beginnings, about moving on, about facing loss, and about gaining family members. I listen to their stories before and after I write, and it is beautiful, cathartic, and communal.
I’ve been thinking a lot about community. It is hard not to when you spend each Sunday at a local outdoor market. Think of the labor that goes into each root and vegetable. Think about all the shoulder and back that goes into working wood, leather, soap, kneaded bread, roasted coffee, or fire popped kettle corn. Effort and community have a symbiotic relationship. The strength of a community is reliant on the integrity, personality, and strength of its people.
I’d like to pose this argument: the best self-care you can give yourself is to take from and give back to your community. We are dependent on one another. It is so easy to ignore this. We have only to go to a supermarket to get lettuce and baked goods. The very act, however, ignores the roads we drove on, the farmer and baker who toiled for our goods, the hidden stock woman who shelved the produce. I am not knocking this, modern America is filled with beautiful convenience, but the isolation is damaging or at the least, it is numbing. Sometimes we need to be refilled, we need to connect.
There is a young man at the market named Grover, he has been selling produce this summer. He is a high school student, not mine–although I believe my partner Brian will have him in class. A few weeks ago he gave me a bag full of cucumbers and yellow squash. That morning I had found out that my mother was seriously injured while at work, I was stressed about money, and I needed, desperately, to stop reading my social media feed which was filled with hate-mongering. I was in no mood to write poetry, and it was hot, very hot outside. Grover is a high school student, he is the demographic I chose to pour my soul into–I’m a high school teacher if that isn’t clear yet. Yet there he was being a special and kind person to me. I barely know him.
It’s like that every market, because the lifeblood of all society is what we harvest, and the oxygen the blood carries is what we create, our art. You get to be right in the middle of that every market. I mean it. Think of all those hands reaching out to keep us together, to keep what we stand for contained.
There are those who want to break apart the coming together of kind, lovely people. There will always be things that wear us down. Come put your hands in next summer, build some community.