On Sunday, in the cafeteria of a middle school transformed to a church atrium,
my little girl, my fair-skinned, auburn-haired baby,
waddled across linoleum towards an expanse of tiled freedom,
trailed close behind by the narrow calves of an older girl chasing her with shared glee
pinching the oh-so-pinchable sides of my baby’s belly
and laughing a little girl’s laugh.
The girls reversed, and bee-lined back to mothers wasting time before getting back to
lunch making, diaper changing, nap fighting.
And the girls began to twirl
in cotton dresses skimming ankles,
the older swooshing in a large vibrant dance,
a younger sister joining,
my part-Spanish, part-her-father’s daughter watching with wild, eager eyes
this game she must learn,
this dance that spins and spins,
these brown-skinned girls that squealed and played
in the same high-pitched, reckless,
that my little lady often prefers.
My baby, with green-gray eyes and gold-flecked hair,
clapping, squealing, eager to be dancing
with other A-named girls.
There was so much sameness,
there in the different shades of skin and hair and eyes,
there in the twirling and escaping
and joining of hands.
And on a sunny Sunday morning,
I hoped that the mother of those girls who took my baby’s breath away
could hear the faintest sound
of history pounding deep in bones
of a ‘beautiful symphony of brotherhood’
tapped in quick-step rhythm
by little girls’ twirling toes.
“With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 28, 1963