“Our lives begin to die the day we are silent
about the things that matter.”
—Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
When the sun sets in summer
on the edge of Riverside Park
you have to squint to see
Aaron Bell’s sculpture (Stand Tall, Stand Loud)
backlit against an iconic orb
harsh golden light piercing your eyes.
There before you, blurred like a mirage,
a muscular figure in the distance
balanced like scales on top of an obelisk;
a silhouette of a winged man, arms at his side,
hands wide open, his body language saying:
“Don’t be afraid; I will not hurt you.”
As you step closer, where you expect a head
a bull-rope noose
suspends above the shoulders;
and where you expect a face
a slash fills the empty noose,
a scar, a symbol against hatred.
The torso, open like a grave,
exposes a gently spinning turbine
covered in white canvas sailcloth,
blades, more like meat grinder than
windmill, take in, process whatever
is in the wind —
whatever injustice, or discrimination,
whatever hatred or fear,
whatever ignorance or misunderstanding,
and distill it into love.