Children Come in All Sizes

34th Rainbow Family Gathering of the Tribes
July 1-7, 2005, Monongahela Forest, West Virginia

“Now so many people that are in this place.
In our meeting place.
It starts when two people see each other.
They greet each other.
Now we greet each other. . . .
This is the way it should be in our minds.”

—Thank You: A Poem in 17 Parts (Seneca tribe)


Ignore all rumors
of cancellation of rumors:
yes, there will be
a Gathering

Those West Virginia country roads
took us Home
to a subarctic island of cranberry bog
pushed south by glaciers an age ago
and abandoned here
to be fostered and adopted
in a motherly fold of the Appalachian quilt
like any other refugee.
A concrete flight of stairs
interrupts the trail up to Main Meadow,
relic of a prison camp
for conscientious objectors
during World War Two.
Among our neighbors a famous doctor
who is also a clown, a small-town mayor
who is also a poet, the usual
white supremacist compound . . .
We are only the latest seekers of shelter
to arrive.

And the children of the sunlight
brought their children Home
to the Mother of mountains
for the yearly reunion of all relatives
(though the bears and snakes and bugs
and white supremacists
never showed)

But children come in all sizes,
from the ones expected any day now
by two young mothers in camp
and their midwives
to the one on stilts
with greying dreadlocks and a terminal grin
towering over the hubbub and commotion . . .

At our campfires this year,
the tellers of tales
weave one more round of Hipstory:
how the townspeople rallied in support
of the barricaded Seed Camp
till even the local Wal-Mart donated supplies,
which the young warriors backpacked in
through the woods night after night,
dodging the police blockade,
infrared goggles and attack dogs–

And the light came down
pure and whole and complete
only to shatter
against the rocks of West Virginia
into ten thousand glints and glimmers
of every possible hue

Children come in all sizes:
the happy trolls under the bridge
knocking from below
whenever footsteps cross the planks,
the idle architects who built
a metropolis of flat stacked stones
in the rocky creekbed,
the backwoods engineers
who constructed kitchens, theaters and ovens
out of mud and sticks and string,
the fire-twirling dancers trailing flame
around the boogie fire
like a synchronized swarm of sparks—
even my playmates at Front Gate, rebirthing
not-so-ancient treasures
of glass, aluminum, paper, plastic
from the burial-mounds of trash bags

Fireflies cruise the dark bog
in its shadowy bowl of mountains
blinking back at the stars
that gleam at intervals
between the low clouds traveling through
(Hello, fellow light in the darkness,
can you tell me where this path

And the forest rang with echoes
of the original note
inventing the elements,
mutating into endless phyla and genera,
species and subspecies,
multiplying and dividing into all
the chords of Creation

Yes, children come in all sizes
uch as the pre-dawn adolescent
with the grownup lungs
who woke me just in time
for the traditional morning of Silence
on the Fourth,
bellowing out his loneliness and boredom
in a glossolalia de la Tourette’s

Sunrise through the mist
over the cranberry bog
gradually reveals
beautiful meadow plants
danced flat
under naked, ecstatic feet
(only to rise again,
weeks from now,
crowds of them swaying
blissfully together
under the sun)

And a silence rose up
with the morning fog
from the mud of West Virginia
as one by one the late-night screamers
nodded off and missed it
and the children woke up, eagerly
heading for Kid Village
to be decorated for the sacred day

Children come in all sizes,
up to and including
six-foot impostors re-living childhood
in the Kids’ Parade
as I did this year, shaking my rattle
up the muddy trail
near the tail of a long, snaking procession
of painted faces and fairy wings,
arriving at last in the open meadow
where a cordon of cheering, clapping
aunts and uncles
opened gradually into a circle so enormous
only a kid on stilts
could have seen the other side

And a circle of interlocking hands
intersected with a circle
of days and moons and seasons,
the Silence broke
and one more cycle was complete.
Happy Interdependence Day!
Happy Rebirthday!
Happy New!

Around the campfires, Hipstory’s
already woven into legend:
how the blockaded Seed Camp finally withdrew
to a government-approved site in a bog
to save the endangered bats
feeding their young around the meadow’s edge—
(doubly endangered, we learned later,
since the locals lost their fight
to stop a stone and gravel quarry
permitted for that very spot . . .)

Mountain Mama, almost Heaven,
your green arms opened wide
in welcome, gathered us into
this valley’s protection, drew us close
together in your boggy lap
for one slow, sunlit moment
as if to claim all children everywhere,
of every size, for yours . . .

And all you ask of us
is to remember you
when they try to sell us
your hard black bones for fuel,
your green hair for paper and wood,
your endless tears in six-packs
of little plastic bottles—

we’re only children, but we’ll try.

Driving home from Home,
we traveled underneath two mountains
in well-lit tunnels
and through one stormfront
in a blinding barrage of rain.
On the other side,
in the slant rays of late afternoon,
a random drifting
shred of humidity winked at us
in a blaze of colors that vanished,
only to wink again
across the interstate:
a faint outline arched up against
the slightly more solid shape
of a cloud, and suddenly
the most glorious rainbow since Noah
spanned the highway,
a pale companion hovering just above it,
and the long gathering
between Gatherings
had begun.

Yes, there is a pot of gold
at the end of the Rainbow:
As soon as we have one
sister and brother
of every color, we’ll circle up
and dish out the soup.

“After having a dream let someone else guess what it was.
Then have everyone act it out together.”

—Iroquois Dream Event #1

Stephen Wing

Poet, activist and author Stephen Wing lives in Atlanta with his wife Dawn Aura and assorted pets. Read more about him here.

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