A little black girl with butterfly barrettes
Ran up to me as I stepped off the bus.
The kind of laugh that makes you
Look up for a moment
And remember there is sky there.
With hope falling on every syllable, she said
She reached her hand towards me
Holding the string of a
And the moment was heavy
With a hundred questions
I used to laugh like that
But somewhere along the way I realized
That beauty came with pain
And so I chose a life that was somewhere between
Pain and beautiful
A life that was very comfortable
But very alone
But also without reverie.
This gift that she offered me
This gift of the yellow balloon
It wasn’t in-between.
It was beautiful
I had forgotten what beautiful looked like
So I hesitated
And this little girl, didn’t she understand
How different the worlds we came from?
Her life filled with
Food stamps and trailer parks
Mine filled with
Screens and fences
Her people trying to forgive
Their hundreds of years in chains
My people trying to understand
How we could ever do anything so cruel
Shouldn’t I be the one giving something to her?
And so I hesitated
And that little girl, if she could see
What was inside of me
She wouldn’t want to give me that yellow balloon
Despite my neat house and my
Church every Sunday
I am very scared
Like a little girl with butterfly barrettes.
I live with thoughts dark and sad
And I wonder if anyone would love me
If they really knew me.
I didn’t deserve this gift.
And so I hesitated.
Finally, I bent down with tears in my eyes and said
“Honey, I don’t think I should take this ballon away from you. “
“But I want to give it to you” she said back.
“I have an idea….Let’s hold on to it together, and then we can let it go!”
I put my hand over hers.
We opened our hands
And our shackles fell
In that moment I felt it again:
Grief and reverie
But this time I wanted them both.
I wanted all of it.
Together we watched the balloon floating in the distance
Sunlight falling on us like baptism
Like reckless mercy
Like relentless love
I looked down at the girl,
Our hands still intertwined
And I realized that
Despite all of our differences
In that moment we were just two wayward children
That had seen a glimpse of home.