Letter to America: Remember the shape! It roars!

By Gregg Kleiner

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Dear America,

Remember the shape. It is a river of hearts and hands and pink hats, of heels hitting pavement. It roars, wide as a boulevard, a zocolo, the Avenue of the Americas. A waterway of humanity flowing six feet deep. Meandering for miles, all across the planet. It is a pink-tinged river of color running over asphalt, around buildings, down highways, and across bridges. Spilling out into grass and vacant lots, filling ditches and baseball diamonds and doorways and despair.

It is the shape of hope—seething with the unstoppable power and joy and courage of humanity: the will and wonder of women, the bright laughter of children, the support of men, the strength of masses, the power of differences.

Remember this shape! For we will need it again—soon and often—summoning it over and over in the coming days and months and years.

When the call goes out, this shape must re-form fast. Coil and converge. Move and merge. Swirl and sweep together within hours, sometimes mere minutes. Heed the summons, and the shape will support us, buoy us, make us unbeatable. Anywhere.

We will call on it to materialize out on the Great Plains and move amoeba-like to encircle water protectors peacefully praying in the face of water cannons and concussion grenades.

We will call on it to surround Planned Parenthood offices 100 people deep when they threaten a woman’s fundamental right to healthcare.

We will call on it to form human barricades to protect our Muslim sisters and brothers, and if they are asked to register, this shape will become the queue and we will all be in it, pens in hand, all of us Muslim.

The pale pink shape will materialize amid cacti and heat waves in the Texas desert, pushing in to block construction equipment and hatred when they try to build the wall along the border.

We will call on it to protect our public schools, sweeping in across playgrounds and through swing sets to fill gymnasiums and windows with the pink power of knowledge and compassion.

We will call on its soft shape to encircle our Sanctuary Cities when they are under siege from an administration gone mad.

We will call on this shape to protect anyone who is other, because we are all other, and our differences make us unbeatable.

This shape will flood the offices of our congress people who dare to vote against our children’s future; it will seethe 50 people thick blocking all exits until they come out and tell us what’s wrong with governing by love.

When they call for more senseless wars, the shape will swell with enough strength to stop tanks and turn aircraft carriers into wind turbines.

When they call for more private prisons built in small towns, the shape will re-form there, too, and occupy dusty acres, demanding gardens and classrooms instead.

When they tell us what we can or can’t do to our own bodies, the shape will resurge and the roar will be 500 lions, 1,000 cranes.

Over and over again, the shape will re-form, fired up and colorful and committed. It will take sacrifice. It will not be easy. Some of us will get hurt. But the shape will prevail.

Because there are not enough zip ties or paddy wagons to stop it, not enough prison cells or detention centers.

Because this shape is you! This shape is us. It is the shape of resistance. The shape of love. The shape of hope. The shape of today and tomorrow and the day after that. And there is nothing this shape cannot overcome, protect, defend, defeat… or create.

Remember the shape. It is a river. It roars. Five hundred lions. It soars. One thousand cranes. It marches. Millions of hearts moving across Earth.

See you in the streets, on the plains and high seas, in the deserts and rainforests and doorways, everywhere!

En la lucha,

— Gregg Kleiner



Gregg KleinerGregg Kleiner is the author of the novel Where River Turns to Sky (HarperCollins) and a kids’ book on climate change, Please Don’t Paint Our Planet Pink! (Cloudburst Creative), which asks what might happen if we could see CO2. His writing has appeared in Orion, The Sun, Whitefish Review, Oregon Quarterly, Saturday Evening Post, and elsewhere, and he lives near the confluence of the Marys and Willamette rivers in western Oregon. He’s on Twitter: @greggkleiner.

Header photo of Women’s March in Washington by Mark Dixon, courtesy Wikipedia. Photo of Gregg Kleiner courtesy Gregg Kleiner.

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