song for my father
(excerpted from a work in progress)
i spoke to an elder gentleman today, waiting for a bus.
he had been caught in the korean war, via a temporary stint in the coast guard, for five years, and was mourning the repeat of events. the loss of innocence, sanity, and life.
my father was a veteran of the korean war. one of the first black men in an “integrated” air force.
my dad didn’t always ell me things directly, but through story. he used to show me his scars.
he loved to drive. long road trips were his forte. he seemed to lose the need for sleep, to have tireless limbs, rolling through the endless beauty of california. fields of crops, slow-moving cows strolling wire-fenced fields, snaking roads taken at high-speeds, or straight flat san joaquin could all be driven by him in such a way that, as i child, i could count the mile markers and dream of hrses, or sleep in the back seat, careless.
one night, alone, he saw a car by the roadside, and the mechanic and good neighbor in him pulled up behind to offer help. he approached the white woman’s window, and offered an outstretched arm like a flag. the woman reached from the window with a knife and stabbed him
the scar my dad carried on his forearm was a shiny, raised brown slash that called my eyes to it over and over, throughout the years.
what part of that wound did not heal?
yes, my father was a survivor of more than one war.
the gentleman i met today was mourning an old wound as well, of seeing history repeat and promises broken. of seeing the country in an ‘unwinnable’ war.
all wars are unwinnable now.
they are all wars against the planet, against earth herself, against our relatives, who are ourselves.
because the truth is that we are all one, and all part of the one, never before has it been more true that an injury to one is an injury to all. we are hooked up, interconnected, one world.
war is not a matter of a single egomaniac running amok, uniting five states into china. it isn’t even what it haad been for the past five hundred years, when slavery and racism connected the world under the worship of the dollar. war now is an expression of the mania that is destroying the earth and the land and the sky.
Song For My Father, by Horace Silver