Sunday, May 10, 2009

My poet friend Carol Tarlen came from a Quaker background and took me once in San Francisco to a Quaker meeting house where we sat as traditional with the Quakers in a circle of silence waiting for someone to speak. The Quakers have been pacifists for two hundred years. Many were also abolitionists and suffragettes. Below is her poem about her family's background

In Circled Silence by Carol Tarlen

In circled silence
My people came
Quiet colors, Quaker hats
In peaceful witness
They plowed their light and
Built a freedom train that
Stretched in secret from
Basement to hayloft to
A slaveless border
Gently lawless
My people came
In circled wagons
My people came
Quilting a pattern across
Yellowed plains and greensprung valleys
Gentle gypsies who peddled
Pots and plows and peace
These children of the Light
Friendly seekers
My people came
In circle chains
My people came
Suffragettes and pacifists
Scorned, beaten, forcefed in prison darkness
Drenching a blinded nation with their
Inward Light
Gentle Warriors
My people came
In silenced circles
My people came
Centuries ago
From a Europe I do not claim
These Children of the Light
They came
In peaceful witness to a
Dark skinned earth
And I am rooted to their light
I am their witness to this
America I cannot deny
I am the sound of their
Circled silence

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