MLK in memory

Time only grows on you.  48 years ago this April, a gray, rainy Saturday, my dear friend Tom Fleming & I joined a long memorial/protest walk for Martin Luther King, pacing slowly through Minneapolis.  I remember circling Lake Calhoun (Calhoun...) - everyone in a somber mood, but walking & talking together - a public ceremony, an opportunity to meet others, neighbors, fellow citizens.  

20 years later, Tom would be gone, a victim of the AIDS epidemic.  But we were there that day.

Have been reading Iris Murdoch's little book of philosophy, The Sovereignty of Good.  Of course, MLK was a sort of sovereign of goodness.  A great witness to Murdoch's fundamental idea - that the Good is a substantial, unified-if-various Something : a spiritual entity known deep within ordinary people of all backgrounds.  A shared thing, a public thing, a common good, a universal benchmark - the one goal of human striving (out of our own weakness, wrongness & disgrace).  The thing we hope for, a something hopeful.  This is one dimension - a philosophical aspect, you might say - of the spiritual testament & legacy of Martin Luther King.  A hopeful call for justice, & shared happiness : the equal dignity of all human being, under the wings of infinite blessing & grace.


Only an unpretentious oil
beside the door, my mother
painted, 50 years
ago.  Backyard.  Spring soul

of morning, golden-green – the glow
dappled with jet-black
flock of starlings, yakking &
feeding there (framed by two

young oaks, & the backs of houses).
Bring your gift, starling,
to the altar of everything –
Ocean River, inexaustible goodness.

O parallactic mercy of
these diamond facets!  Water-
falls of liberty – your
moral law, Dove-

cote!  Who moves through Memphis stone
like mild summer breeze
or shady swing-trapeze,
to milky matrix of the human

sun.  Love’s stern ethos is
a camouflage – justice
for joy – ray, source...
O King of Arthur St., she sees

you!  One glance of moist radiance
out of the Black Sea book
of Always... there, look!
Her garden summons (Peasant Dance).


Backyard, Arthur St., early 1960s (by Mary Gould)

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