Magenta by Carol Harada

Lying on her back and doing her shoulder extensions, slowly raising her arms above her head until the back of her hands graze the sheepskin rug, Delia imagines the long slow wave of aloha, hello and goodbye, or a rainbow emanating out from her fingertips. When she sits up, she is startled by a flare of magenta by the bay window. In the planter with the dragon tree, a delicate clover-leafed volunteer has sent out magenta flowers, seemingly overnight. It’s as if the oxalis knew the moment was ripe for a new flash of color, a reminder of the persistence of nature showing up right in her living room. Tiny bell flowers dangle and catch the light, ringing in midwinter. Spring is coming after all.

In the airports, strangers lay down impromptu prayer rugs, made from large demonstration signs that read, “We Are All Muslims” and “Welcome, Refugees!” and “No Ban, No Wall”. It is like the faithful laying a path of palm leaves before Jesus to soften his walk into Jerusalem. Knees drop, heads and bodies bow, hands cup ears in this holiest of moments. But it is loud. The impromptu mosque dome is made of the cheers of strangers, strangers who want to be kin.

The cheering goes on for the laptop lawyers sitting on the floor, plugged into outlets and plugging away to secure safe passage for weary travelers. The ACLU brings in 24 million dollars in donations over the weekend. This is our heart, exposed at last. This is who we are and how we turn love into virtue and verb.

Delia at midwinter, this underground time, alternates between retreating into herself, blotting out the news with Netflix binges and making soup for herself and her friends. She then rallies to send emails and make calls to Senators and Representatives, so-called leaders inside the collapsing system. But her heart is in the streets with the people, the We the People people, whose love for our young experiment in democracy burns bright.

Delia drives to the office of her older Senator, annoyed by full voicemail boxes and constant busy signals. There she joins a line of hearty citizens, waiting outside the building to calmly deliver their messages to the staffers, earnest young people with good eyeglasses and better political savvy, who come out to the streets, as if this business is too big, too vital to be contained in a lockdown building. When it is her turn, the senior staffer named Manny looks at her with cocoa eyes, patient and loyal like a dog, as Delia tries her best not to scream at him about the racist sexist xenophobic power-mad shitheads being vetted to join the cabal cabinet. Manny assures her of the Senator’s wanting to know where her constituents stand. He vows to pass on her concerns, that the Senator help prevent even more atrocities. As he scribbles down the gist of it, Delia believes him.

She drives home, where the magenta flower is glittering, its tiny petals catching early afternoon light. She cleans the house, thanking God that her shoulder has healed enough to not have vacuuming and dusting pains. There’s life in this old girl yet, she thinks. Her granddaughter Marta calls and tells her all about the airport demo over the weekend in New York. How a young Iraqi father and husband, who risked all as an interpreter for US troops, was detained for seventeen hours. His dazed, young children handcuffed by the upper arms, pulled behind their backs because their slender wrists would slip free. The terror in his wife’s eyes, even as the exhausted family was  released into a new and almost welcoming world.

 

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