I Think of Freedom
inspired by a photograph taken by Nona Faustine –
“From Her Body Came Their Greatest Wealth”
I see Nona.
She is standing on a crate
in the middle of a busy Manhattan intersection.
She is black. She is naked.
She looks directly at me
as I hold her photograph in my white hands.
Her face is full of – not defiance –
presence, intensity, sorrow.
She seems to say:
See me. Remember me.
With her body she bridges two worlds.
She creates a memorial to the thousands of African and Native people,
the original stock,
who were bought and sold here for over 150 years.
Here, the original Stock Market of Wall Street.
I wake from a dream with these words:
The Goddess Reclaiming the World,
and I think of Nona standing there,
in that desecrated place.
Wendell Berry says “there are no unsacred places.
There are only sacred places and desecrated places.”
I wonder, how do we repair a desecrated place?
A desecrated soul, a desecrated culture, a desecrated country?
I look into Nona’s face.
I will begin with the story. I will know the story.
I will begin with my presence.
I feel the pull to look away, to run away.
I see you Nona. I will remember.