Come with me again? Yes? It’s just down this slate-coloured street.
The sun so bright in a blue sky and the clouds white. It is not yet noon and the air is crisp and clean, no longer acrid with the smoke of distant fires and the people are there.
They are like leaves in the winds of autumn, rustling and shifting in all those colours on the grey pavement. Sometimes they cluster together but eventually they become a murmuring, like a flock of birds snaking en masse past the quiet buildings where people used to work and sometimes still do.
They are chanting.
At the beginning the people have been safely corralled to the sidewalks before they march. One side seems draped in rainbows and many wearing medical masks. Strange in a funny way as there is no rain nor smoke and no serious virus whispering at nostrils that we know. They have a few dramatic ones; one a parrot in green with a moustache gesturing —easily understood by those who know how broken one must feel to seek such attention. One with a pink bicycle. She is well known, a plump prostitute for lesbian rights in a flowered skirt. She is in fine fettle and cheery.
They are all mostly white people if that is what you choose to focus on. We didn’t much do that once but now we do again. They have white arms and necks. We do not know who many are because of the masks. Oh, those masks even still. The muting. The broken I/thou. The stranger. The one to whom questions are not asked.
“Trans rights are human rights” they bawl and shriek and shout. Pain is there—amidst the clamouring. They operate with not so much passion as before as if they are tired or they don’t want to be there. They are rigid and serious for the most part. They are the “counter protestors” organized and sent by the unions. By the government. For the hour or so they were there together, a protected small group. In front of them the police from another city stand sentinel. So many police officers. Not our own.
Their anti-protest group was small in number by comparison. Perhaps that is why they left with only a few rainbow-haired stragglers lingering to fight the good fight. They were paid to protest, some would say. The cynical ones. Or the honest ones. Take your pick on which is true. Any opinion on that is as valid as the next. It can only be known that there were not as many for whatever reason.
The other group stayed much longer. The ones who called for the protest and they are massive in number. Their faces open to the free air and there are smiles and sometimes understated anger. No pain. They have not perhaps yet been hurt enough or else they are used to the suffering of life and they can wear it now without deference to victimhood. Many are immigrants. Many are not.
“Leave the kids alone” they chant. “No more silence” they yell. They are all colours of humans. A strange mingling of cultures, religions and heritage. The mennonites in long denim dresses and the muslim women in hijabs. The men are mostly bearded in the way that men make statements now. Pointed or scraggled or fluffed or braided. Long or short or barely there. It is their decoration.
There are children on this street. They are brightly celebratory to be out. Eventually a bit bored, kicking stray bits down the street and playing tag or yawning into their mothers’ skirts.
After the march the lingerers have small skirmishes. “You who have no children are telling me how to raise my children,” yells one. “Trans rights are human rights. Trans rights are human rights.” “Leave the kids alone.” There is some scuffling and a woman is grabbed by the not-from-here police officers and a man rushes in to stop them. He is lead away in cuffs. He tried to help he said.
There is a strange unease because it is as if one side is fighting the other but they are in different battles altogether. As if one was saying ban guns to the other side they’ve actually voted to send off to war. It makes no sense. It never did.
There is a young girl crying in her mother’s arms. We do not know yet why. There are the contagions of rumours and some say that the protests have been unbelievable in Montreal and Toronto. We don’t know yet. We won’t know. We know that mainstream media will not tell us much. They have stopped doing that. They lead always with climate stories and move then through trivia to have us all sophomorically stupid now. We know this.
Most now wait for the ones on the ground with cameras. They tell us truths. They are the only ones to listen to now. As long as we are still able to. Before they are shut down too. We wait for the news. We are isolated from truth like children. But they will not leave us alone. And we are tired again. Like we were before. Tired of the talking heads.
But that is not why we came down this street—to bewail the injustice served like gruel salad to us everyday by a stale media; a cafeteria cook’s fare when we all paid for a gourmet meal. It is there. It is seen. It is experienced. It is what it is. No. We came down this street to see what you did not see.
Which side of the street did you pick to walk on?
Don’t tell me now. I led you down the middle.
There is no one there much except six horses snorting and foaming a bit at one point. The mounted police on their backs rigid with authority watching. The horses were more bored than the children and simply wanted some oats and a green field. They were there against their will. What did they care for all of this? The coloured clusters of humans making noise. They probably knew more than we all did.
We came down the street to see what you did not see. I led you down the middle. That is where love lives. Love lives in the in-between.
It is all being done in the name of love. Love for the children on both sides.
Love lives in the in-between. That is the best place to meet. We used to talk to each other there. Once.
Love lived in there when viruses raged and people were certain they were right and others were wrong. Love lived lonely there when wars were raging and wherever the people faced each other in passion and in pain. Love lived in the silence of truths not spoken when lies were louder. Love lived lonely there. And it still does. Love lies in the in-between. Can you not see this? I did not take you down this street for you not to.
That’s where love lives except perhaps for the horses which was a slavery. If you must walk in the middle do not strive to be a horse with a soldier on your back who can only dream of green fields.
Written concerning the 1MillionMarch4Children, Ottawa, Canada 20 Sept 2023 which was a parental rights protest and not an anti-trans protest for the record. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council had a meeting. So here’s an earworm. Did I do this before? Probably.
Quote for the foreseeable future (Thankyou moneycircus)
History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope & history rhyme.
So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore Is reachable from here,”
Visit my substack if so inclined.
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