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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Kite Strings

When I stopped to buy vegetables at the village stand this morning, Diarra, the Senegalese woman I buy from, took my hands. She had tears in her eyes. 

"Why so many guns?," she asked. It was an earnest question that deserved an honest answer.

"Because they're easy to get," I replied. "And people have the right to own them in the United States."

She shook her head.  "I don't understand."  Her daughter, who is two or three, had gotten sand in her mouth and started crying. She picked her up and wiped the grit from her tongue with her fingers.

"I don't want a gun. I don't need a gun. Do you have a gun?"

"No, I don't. I don't have a gun."

"You should bury your guns, not your children."

Believing the world to be small and intimate and woven together by family, she asked if any of the children were my relatives. I told her no, that I didn't think I knew anyone directly involved. 

"We are all involved," she said, "where children are concerned."

"Yes", I agreed. "That's true. They belonged to all of us."

Children have that capacity. They erase borders, straddle cultures, muddy the skin, weave religions, blur barriers, meld langauges, and wring the collective human heart when they are lost.

Like kites, lifted and light, they have already forgiven us and soared away, leaving us to wonder how the strings slipped through our fingers.