Bearing Witness by Linda Simoni-Wastila

In the meeting house this morning, silence. No machines thrumming, no rumble of moving earth. Six others sit in equal quiet. A blue jay caws from someplace distant. I look down to my clasped hands. The query runs through me: Where there are hatred, division, and strife, how are we instruments of reconciliation and love?

Pews creak. Blue pulses below my wrist, skin thin as hope. The jay cackles again, the same or another I cannot tell, but Franklin rises and slides the door bolt. No one speaks; it is understood the remaining Friends fled South through the excavated tunnels. Decades ago, the Sin Papeles built the tunnels and immigrated North. When they crossed the border, broken and naked, we sheltered and fed them in our safe houses until they ran down our schools, shot the police, and bankrupted our hospital. Their children hold the town captive.
Still, we hold Sin Papeles to the light.

To the light we hold our Friends traveling South. I hold my daughter, her husband and infant to the light. My cousin Lorraine, the kindergarteners I taught. I hold them all to the light.

A shadow in the window. A flutter of blue feathers. Footsteps rustle brittle leaves. Far off, the staccato of gunfire. I smell the smoke before I see it curl past the window. Muriel reaches for me and we grip hands.

We are instruments of peace, we whisper. We are instruments of love.

I hold us to the light.


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Filed under Linda Simoni-Wastila

15 responses to “Bearing Witness by Linda Simoni-Wastila

  1. Just beautiful. I love this.

  2. The story itself, and the beauty of the telling made me shudder. I do hope that someday we can recover from this kind of insanity.

  3. What a sense of hope and hopelessness, change and going nowhere. Beautifully worded, beautifully done, Linda.

  4. Lovely lilt and brightness of hope to this one Linda- fine piece

  5. Randal Houle

    Wonderful rendering here of a misguided kindness turned mayhem turned forgiveness and letting it go.

    I hold __ to the light. was a marvelous repetitive construction and paced this like a drumbeat.

  6. This is one of those pieces of flash that’s so tightly constructed that if a single word is moved, the whole thing would collapse. That, plus beautiful language, to boot. A beautiful story, Linda.

  7. Kelly

    I liked the repetitive construction, like Randal – it is enigmatic, leaving the realm of fact.

  8. Excellent use of the present tense. Tightly constructed and sincere. Thank you.

  9. I liked (is that the right word?) the repetitive words, and theme, and the mood that is struck by your astounding words. There is a pensive “out there” quality to the violence that is so familiar in the consciousness of this current modern age. You nail it, and it haunts me.

  10. I love the line “Blue pulses below my wrist – skin thin as hope.” That one sentence holds the entire story. Your repetition of “to the light,” is powerful- especially since you are not alone bearing witness – your
    daughter and grandchild are also bearing witness. Faint hope for a future. Doris

  11. Melissa

    Linda, this is a powerful piece. After I read it, I felt like clapping.

    — “When they crossed the border, broken and naked…” —well written

  12. loved the repeating “blue” and fluttery feeling, and of course, the different “holdings, which pull it all together.

  13. guy

    This one works with sound. Caw, pew, cackle, and then the flutter, rustle and stacatto.

  14. Thank you all for reading and so glad you liked! I’m slowly getting around to reading — we’ve had power outages the past few days due to the snow and ice, so my on-line time has been sporadic at best.

    Anyone going to AWP? I’ll be there Thursday and Friday. Peace…

  15. Pingback: Week #37 – Border town | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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