We listened. To drums.
Our kids met goats and discovered blue stones, polished glass, hidden treasure on a garden path, and we all – adults and kids alike – listened to drums.
One man juggled knives.
“Are those real?”
“Can you – Do you – Whoa! Did –”
“Mama, they’re not plastic! They’re real. See?”
Sharp enough to cut grass, or to stay in the ground upright.
When the juggling man knelt by the safety rope, small children ran fingers along sides of knives while parents looked on – never on the edges, no, not on the edges – all of us listening to drums.
Drum beat. Heart beat. Garfield Park Conservatory Fire Jam.
Blankets were spread. Picnic baskets were opened. A three-year-old twirled her scarf — sheer burgundy, effervescent — just like her. She bobbed her head under the safety rope, daring us to stop her, daring her dad, and each time, he called her back. “This side,” he said. Each time.
We basked in that fire-play, pulsing with the beat of drums, arriving home, sleepy and smiling, late.
And once my daughter fell into bed, full with the beating of drums and dreams, once the light finally faded from behind window shades and her breathing slowed to sleep state – almost – I leaned back against a pillow at the foot of her bed for my five-minute goodnight, sure to be silent this time, and she said, plain as day, “Mami, why are we here?”
Why. Are. We. Here.
“Do you mean: Why are we here in this house, or Why are we people on this earth?” Hope against hope against hope, my words scurried underground.
“Yeah. People. Why are we here?”
I listened for the drums. “That is a question people spend their whole lives trying to answer.”
“Well – what do you think?” What do I think?
“To help each other. To find our talents, to help the earth stay alive…” I said much more and so did she, but the only answer I felt certain of was this:
A drumbeat, community and song.
This is why.
This is why we are.
This is why we are here.
This is why we are here. Now.
In a minute, in a day, this rhythm, this reason may change.
And we may change with it.
But she’s nine
and needed something
so I didn’t say
all of this,
like I’m writing it
like I’m writing it