A SEMINAR FOR THE GRASSROOTS

a poem by Elizabeth Padillo Olesen, Denmark

The motive is great:
to develop and educate whom they call
the grassroots, the remote, the unreached.
And they come to lecture
given the special places,
the special chairs, different
from the grassroots' benches.
Anyway, the lecturers are the special guests.

And the simple men and women
sit on their native benches
all in simple smiles
and wide eyes
expectant of the new
the new lesson in life
to learn from the special guests.

But they that lecture
keep the pre-set thought
that those wide-eyed men and women
are ignorant and resistant to change,
narrow-minded and short-sighted.

And they, like from heavens,
start to open their mouths
with a language, strange to the ears
of the grassroots
like the gap between the trees
reaching up the sky
and that of the grasses below the ground
though they both behold the sun
yet they cannot touch their arms.

These lecturers sound incoherent
and what only binds them
with the grassroots is
that they are all humans.

And so they that lecture only
speak for and among themselves
and the wide-eyed and expectant grassroots
wonder where they are.


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