The Televisions 

In my locker room there’s now a mounted television, and it’s always on. Sports, of course, as if all men… Where there had been just peace some mornings before the day began with its various responsibilities. As if the silence of the old room were a 20th century oppression, filled with the sounds of zipping and unbuttoning. Now that the evidence against us is clear and everywhere. Haven’t we made war in every instance of war? Haven’t we silenced the women who wanted to speak? Aren’t we keeping cruelty in power? And the children who had other ideas than ours—? There used to be comfortable silences: in the bathroom with the paper, in the shower with a song, out for a walk with dog. Now, even when I’m filling up the car at the gas station, there’s a television in the center of the pump that turns on automatically in case the sound of my consciousness as I step out of my black vehicle whispers something about the plastic-coated ocean, the radioactive fish, the whales dying in waves. Black men killed and no one found to blame. The television in the phone. The television in the watch. The tiny televisions within the television! Those young men who cannot sit still without a monster truck shaking the air around them to pieces. Whom can they hear saying no, or help? After all they’d been promised by their fathers who came home after a long day for the television, the sound turned up full to drown out everything that might have required more. Televisions on every floor. Televisions in every room. Televisions growing thinner and thinner. Better stereo. Better definition. As the nation fattens on dull self-affirmations.  Always on in case a self grows wild in a crack of silence and speaks out of turn, a blossom of hope, a lull in want, a welling of what? Patience for the world of need, of love? A drinking in of have? 

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