Monday Morning Musings:
“Go out and tell the story.
Let it echo far and wide.
Make them hear you.
Make them hear you.
How that justice was our battle and how justice
Make them hear you.
Make them hear you.”
— from Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, “Let Them Hear You,” Ragtime
See them running down the beach
Children run so fast
Toward the future
From the past”
–from Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, “Our Children,” Ragtime
Dawn comes to tell the story
of the day,
the sun rising, a fact, or perhaps allegory
of what might be,
but at dawn we still have to wait and see
what will unfold over the hours
wait and behold, to see if it’s sweet,
or if it sours.
Will there be light and flowers,
or angry tears of raging showers?
We travel over the cool bridge*
listening to the voice we’ve named Siobhan,
she guides us to our destination
on her part
though we wonder as she directs
us to wander,
at her choices—but she gets us there.
And it’s where we want to be.
It’s a hot day,
but fine if we stay
in the shade
by costumed musicians playing flute
and a stringed instrument—but not a lute–
so, we munch
our lunches, listening, as we crunch
and enjoy this day–
wait for more of what it has to say.
It’s a day of protests,
and I am thankful for those who brave the heat
trying to fight and unseat
the evil—so obvious–that is being done
with children in cages, rights that were won
being stripped away–
a new horror every day–
evil has become commonplace,
even while it’s made banal
(build that wall, he still says
this excrescence, the prez)
And we sway in the breezes of change
wanting to blink and look away
but hoping still
it will go our way–
this story of our days.
So, we see this play,
a musical, and I’m amazed
at the way
it’s so timely today–
full of immigrants fleeing
and wanting the American dream
though things are not always the way they seem,
as white women are awakened to life beyond their homes
and people of color
striving for rights and equality,
though there is no apology
for the discrimination, only denial
without fair trial
And, ok, I get choked up
when Sarah runs down to meet Coalhouse
even though I knew it was coming
and it’s possible I was crying by the end
of the story—I won’t pretend—
I was moved by the magic of theater,
perhaps you would have been, too.
It might seem funny that we see
this musical, not a Shakespearean play
at a festival named for the bard,
but it’s not hard
the popularity of musicals.
But he wrote of current events and history
and it’s no mystery
that his plays would have been performed with song–
perhaps the audience hummed along
to some familiar tunes.
Though all the female roles then were played by men,
well, things go around and around again
(Remember when we saw a woman play Hamlet’s role?
Gender no longer is the control.)
We ask Siobhan to guide us home
where we feed our cats,
(upset at being left alone)
wait for the sun to set
and the moon to rise,
wait for people to hear the babies’ cries
to set the course of things to where they should be,
where children are free,
not locked away, torn from their parents’ arms
but instead, quite naturally, kept safe from harm.
And by and by
the stars twinkle and sigh,
sing to us a lullaby.
I make a wish by candle light
for wisdom to come—perhaps tonight,
I’ll tell the stories of truth and right
and wait for some to listen,
Can I make them hear me?
I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
*Our children–actually their stuffed animal friends–named the Commodore Barry Bridge, “the Cool Bridge.
I’ve listened to the music of the musical Ragtime–and in fact, one summer I listened to it so often in the car that I pretty much had it memorized. But I had never before seen the show. This was a wonderful production with Broadway actors with great voices (and some fortunate DeSales students filling in some of the ensemble roles). It was very well-staged and the costumes were great, too.
Here’s Brian Stokes Mitchell singing, “Let Them Hear You.”