You ask me about true grit?

It is not the “knock ’em down, shoot ’em up’ ilk

It is not blustering self-aggrandizement

It is not barbed wire and border walls

It is the small gatherings of grandmothers

standing on swollen feet, in hot sun

in their little towns, their city blocks,

holding hand-painted pieces that read —

Peace — Justice — Racial Equality — Respect

            Honor for ALL LIFE — Faith

It is kindergarteners and their teachers

            crouching under desks —

It is high school students, college students,

            housewives and grandfathers

Marching in solidarity for justice

            even though they are afraid

It is our vital, precious heroes of today,

            and those we remember —

They marched, as rubber bullets rained down

They sang, they prayed into the mouths of rifles

They braved the teeth of snarling dogs —

King — Parks — Douglass — Hamer — Gandhi — Tubman, Truth

            we hear them still

It is the father

            who moves his vulnerable family to safety,

then returns to work in danger zones — alone

It is doctors and nurses

that don their masks to help babies

            come into this uncertain world,

That tend the sick,

stitch the wounded

            comfort the bereaved —

It is nurses’ aides, cleaning crews,

            fast food workers

who earn minimum wage

and get minimum respect —

It is factory workers, standing for hours

            side by side on the lines —

by Their hands we are fed

It is postal workers

            handling thousands of potential time bombs

            of disease

The neighbor

            who arranges to bring over orders of groceries

            to the elderly woman next door —

The repairman

            who comes into the house to fix a wire

            even though he’s not supposed to —

It is the Rabbi, the Priest

            the Imam, the Minister

who reaches out to his or her flocks

through Zoom, through phone calls —

Who makes sure messages of comfort, of hope,

Make it through dark clouds

            of despair and fear

You ask me about true grit?

It is the pacifist

            who honors all creation,

Yet, torn by his beliefs, and the need

            to protect his family,

He walks, with leaden step,

            to buy a gun

It is the mother

            separated from her children

            when the test comes back positive —

The brother

            working two jobs now

            to help his siblings

It is you and it is me

            shining as much light as we can

Praying all the prayers we can pray

Singing all the songs of courage and comfort

            we can sing

Walking all the steps toward healing

            we can walk

Building all the bridges we can build

            back to the real heart

            of true grit.