Note to readers: the following is the winter version of this poem.
What if the statue in Springfield Park could speak to us now?
A Mother’s Plea
Help me down from this pedestal, would you? And bring my children with me.
Toss away this old book and let me trade my granite perch for a tattered blanket, spread over the sun-warmed grass. There, on the ground, let us dream up a new story, together.
My children want to run and play, with yours, and theirs, (all ours!) on this Florida, blue-sky-winter day. Thunderous rhetoric and unrighteous lightning have trapped us here for far too long.
Would you please take us off this pedestal, so we can see eye to eye?
On this shared parcel of sun-kissed earth, no more shall we tilt our heads upward, to exalt false hierarchies.
We are not gods, these children and I. Nor are we prizes to be won, nor possessions to be hoarded.
Please, unhitch us from this height contrived.
Let us join you for a reading yet to be written, made sweeter by the sound of children’s laughter, as they run to us in bare feet and grass-stained britches.
It is never too late for communion, is it? For a picnic of crackers and grapes?
We will douse and dry our hands, and I will ask your forgiveness.
Might we bow our heads together, humbled in the cold, cruel eyes of history? In overcoming human horror, we can share the fruits of peace.
Will you please help us down?
Our likenesses were forged to stoke the smelting fires of hatred. Please, melt down our bronzed cocoon, and set our spirits free.
Sculpt a new future. Cast a better story for us all.
And teach what is true about our unenlightened past:
Five score and six years ago, I believed in a falsehood handed down to me by cowardice. Fear and brutality compelled me. To those twin devils—get behind me, now!
I am sorry for my sleepy complicity. I am sorry I was not braver.
Blasted by war and heartbroken by history, my body remains captive, elevated by the angry hands of vengeful men.
The same men pretended I was the reason for their treason, the rationale for their bloody rage. I was their subterfuge for disgracing branches of live oaks with unpunished murder.
Please, cut me down before they slay one more child’s father!
Free me from the stench of my stagnation and plant something fresh for the generations.
Our children no longer wish to carry the errors of their elders.
So, let me discard the old book and take your hand. We will gladly leave the lie that lifted us to this breathless coffin.
Please, won’t you help me get down from here? And bring my children with me?