Michael and I arrived at the park in the early afternoon. We parked on Prince Street, on the west side of the park; as we crossed the long asphalt stretch, we could see the chairs lined up next to the playground. I counted: eight. It had been less than twenty-four hours since we marched with over a dozen people to read poems in this neighborhood park. When we left, most of the chairs were on the asphalt; used to sit and watch the basketball game, but also as a step up to the slam dunk.
As I reached the chairs, I noticed a little girl that had been there at the reading. She told me that the older kids, on the court, broke one of the chairs, so she, and the other young kids took all the chairs to keep safe by the playground. Why is it that the simple arrangement of these in a straight line is so moving? A line that shows a deep level of care.
I found a couple of the tags on the ground, and she, and a little boy, helped me tie them back on the chairs missing tags. The tags inform:
Meet ___(name)_________, the chair.
Place ___(name)_________, where
you need a place to sit – in the park, on the sidewalk, anywhere in public space.
and in Spanish:
Conoce a ____(nombre)__, la silla.
Coloque a ____(nombre)__, donde
se necesite un lugar para sentarse – en
el parque, en la acera, en cualquier
lugar en el espacio público.
The Point has the highest concentration of Spanish speakers in Salem. In some ways, I thought I was trying to relate, but I knew I would be missing things – perhaps big things. But, I hope the action of the reading, and the placing of the chairs, would reveal what I was missing.
There was a substantial crack in one of my favorite chairs – given name: Reginald. Well, now it is time to think of what this might mean – it is a form of engagement, after all. The previous day some of the children warned us of the potential destruction, but I didn’t believe them.
After tall chair, (I never knew its name), was the one destroyed. The destruction of the chair was thorough, almost systematic. While the reasons for destruction are undeniably complex, the saving of the chairs is simple and heroic.