Sitting at my desk this morning, taking a deep breath, and turning my attention fully to the words I’m writing to you. It’s a miracle, to sit here not knowing what I will say — and that with the push of a button, whatever comes will land on your screen. I say “miracle” knowing that it’s a loaded word, a word that’s easy to say but difficult to reckon with in the face of so much personal and political pain.
And still a world begins its furious erasure—
Who do you think you are, saying I to me?
– Claudia Rankine, from “Citizen: An American Lyric”
I pause to look out the window and there he is, the hawk who flies over our house every morning right about this time. On November 19, I’m getting a red-tailed hawk feather inked on my left arm — it is a symbol of my devotion to my wife, and by extension, to my life — a life of truth and beauty, of voice and silence, of dark and light. A life of poetry and play and of fight and fierce determination. A life of white privilege and a call to justice deeply rooted in Jewish tradition. A life of it-gets-better and never-give-up. A life I feel blessed to get to share with you, through the powerful double helix of of showing up and letting the words come out.
We call this “writing,” and writing it is. It is also a vehicle for so many other life-changing byproducts. Writing might be the path that leads you back home to your own heart, or it might the way you find your voice out in the world. For me, these two are and always have been one and the same. What was missing for so long was company along the way, and now here you are. Here we are.
But that doesn’t “just” happen. When I put something out there and you say yes, when you write something and share it and I read it and witness your words, we are creating ripples in our own day, ripples that extend to the people first closest to us and then, because we are all interconnected, further out into the world.
“The most powerful force in the universe is an agreement between two people.” – Marianne Williamson, from A Course in Miracles
According to the Butterfly Effect, a tiny, barely measurable air disturbance from the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in China can ultimately result in a hurricane in Florida or prevent a tornado off the Indonesian coast. Apparently I’ve been pondering this for a long time; it was the topic of one of my earliest blog posts.
Since April, roughly 150 people have participated in the quarterly Dive Into Poetry party, an experience more than a few folks have called “life-changing.” For an entire month, you get three poems per week by yours truly in your inbox. You have the option of simply enjoying the poems and images as meditations or inspiration for writing privately, or to accept a spacious, standing invitation to play inside a supportive Facebook group. It’s low-stakes, high-touch, and inexpensive: Just $28 for the month.
As I look forward to the third quarterly Dive, I find I must do more. I must use my voice and work to affect change. Black people are being murdered and as a white person, it is my responsibility to do something about it.
That’s why between now and October 1, for every person who signs up for October’s Dive Into Poetry, I will donate $5 to Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization.
Color of Change mission statement:
We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over one million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America.
If you want more poetry in your life AND want a part of “championing solutions for social change [and] making society less hostile and more human for Black people in America,” sign up for Dive Into Poetry today and $5 of your registration will go directly to Color of Change.
Let’s raise and donate $500 by October 1.
That means 100 people signing up for a month of poems in your inbox. Because we have to change this. We have to fix this. And just like with the writing: Everything counts. Just as poetry is not for “real” poets, change is not for other people to make happen — and if we’re not audacious, who will be?
As a white woman, it is my responsibility to speak up, to listen to people of color, and to take action whenever and wherever I can. By joining me this October, we are making a powerful agreement — to acknowledge the impact of our personal choices and priorities — and how even, sometimes especially, the smallest of these either contribute to or dismantle systemic racism.
I hope you’ll join me. Because even if you are busy, even if you don’t want to be in a group — who doesn’t have time to read a poem three days a week, to pause, to look inward, or up, or around with new eyes?
p.s. I decided to “grandfather” in those who already registered, so we are already up to $84 towards the $500 goal.