Volunteering for Amnesty

Denise Antaw

The other volunteers came
to our “up-market” site just after sunrise.
Meanwhile, I had borrowed from a friend
a small canvas marquee although her husband
worried whether it would be “safe” … with me …
The overnight rain had turned into drizzle.
Close to Xmas, it was humid
and the usual suspect began her usual grizzle.
Passers-by were unresponsive; 
Well, who would be want to be stopped,
to be told about disappearance, torture
electric shock. All that was happening
worlds away… My ankles were swelling
so was my brain … it was dispiriting
to see that everyone passing 
was in such a hurry.                                        
The traffic was making the air thick and blue
the swearing and snarling, the gestures were too.
When out of the churlishness and murk of the road,
a young fellow stepped over the gutter 
and quickly came to our stall.
“D’yawanna han’ ?– wotcha doin’? that Amnesty?”
The banner was limp and way too heavy – 
for seniors to attach to the iron street lamp
The young fellow just grabbed it. 
Five minutes. Fixed it.
Seeing the costume of the Amnesty candle -
none of us could wear it - “too humid for canvas”
he threw it on, grabbed a tray full of badges
and proceeded to accost 
with cheery noise and encouragement
all passers-by to open their wallets.
This boy-man it seemed was saddled 
with “a reputation” – it seemed moderate
enough in the telling                                                                                                                                 
He made us glad we had stood up
in public for Amnesty -
gifting time for our efforts and glad 
for the pleased smile of the youngster 
                as he strode away

Denise enjoyed the challenge of this many-faceted theme – sharing smiles and laughter was her prism during isolation.



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