After teaching my final 20th Century
class at Lincoln-Sudbury

It's no easy matter after a quarter-century
to say goodbye to Emma Goldman or
to reassure Joe Hill that I will organize
and will not mourn, or to watch Bryan

go down to defeat one last time and to witness no
more, forever, the massacre at
Wounded Knee. Yes, I am doing my own
Ghost Dance through this story that

I taught, the unions my
family loved (oh, Bread & Roses!),
the wars, the depressions, the strikes.
the struggles, the faces that

mesmerized me at Ellis Island,
the slogging through hell, the silver sound
of FDR's recorded voice I remember hearing
as a child, the atomic bomb detonating

on my slides, in my dreams, the plain
human hope I heard in the songs we
sang, the laughter we shared as we hiked through
the broken minefield of history, the terrain more

difficult with every ascending step through that bloody
century, Harding dead, the Hindenburg
in flames, those hollow soup lines snaking through
cities, a migrant mother's face, a sharecropper

forgotten, a verse from Langston Hughes, the beach
landing at Omaha, done, all done, the grafters,
the dreamers, the demagogues, the poets, then one
day I put my pack down.

Where am I?

June 17, 2005


All written material © Bill Schechter, 2016
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