by Thomas Davis
Inside a dark cave,
looking at blinding light
through a waterfall’s curtain
that thunders into a pool that cannot be seen,
decisions dance into possibilities,
fracturing into edges
leading into an infinity of paths,
some dark, some dazzled light,
some thundering with water.
Inside this moment, at the dinner table,
decisions dance inside a spirituality
that has no words, but follows pathways
snaking from this moment, this center,
into a future bound into the cave’s darkness
beyond the waterfall’s curtain and thunder.
Somehow, through discussion, conflict, planning,
songs of voices telling what they know and believe
and what they remember in racial/cultural memory
and what they have remembered in their lives,
ANMSI has come down from the mountain
through a dark cave, Blacks, Hispanics, Indians
a mosaic that stands at the cusp, in this moment,
looking at the waterfall,
feeling the cave’s darkness,
transversed in the voyage of intense conversation
against the indifference of the national soul.
And what does this moment mean?
The darkness? The waterfall? The future
fracturing into the infinity of paths?
I remember shining hope
in the beginnings of the journey into the cave.
I remember days so heady with movement
the journey’s darkness filled with light
brighter and more glorious than the sun of any day.
I remember anger dark with emptiness and confusion.
I remember conversations between races and cultures
that sometimes, around edges not seen
by anyone speaking or hearing the words spoken,
trembled toward the possibility
of an American nation that could be.
And so, we sit here this night
after a day of meetings and voices
singing black, Hispanic, Indian, white words,
sitting at a dinner table
waiting for food, lit by candlelight,
looking out of darkness toward light.
As voices murmur into the conversation
that makes humankind human,
in the presence of the land community
that lives outside of conversation,
the question of this nation spins
upon the cusp, this moment,
in the candlelight of a dinner table waiting for food.
Note: ANMSI was an organization, Advanced Networking for Minority Serving Institutions, that I helped found. This was written in Washington DC during a time when discussions were going on between tribal, black, and Hispanic colleges and universities about trying to find funding to keep the organization going. That effort eventually failed.