Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tamara's Opus

This was posted awhile ago on FWD: Feminists with Disabilities, but I just found it. If you haven't seen it, I suggest checking it out.

Joshua Bennett, performing "Tamara's Opus" at the White House. (Most of it is spoken English, with little bits in ASL. There are subtitles in the video and the transcript is below.)

Description: Joshua Bennet is a young black man who speaks his slam poetry with emotion in his voice and movements. Some lines (which I have italicized in the transcript) are signed as well as spoken.

Transcript after the jump

Tamara has never listened to hip-hop.
Never danced to the rhythm of raindrops 
or fallen asleep to a chorus of chirping crickets
she has been deaf
for as long as I have been alive
and ever since the day I first turned five
My father said
Nothing is wrong with Tamara

God just makes some people different.

And at that moment

those nine letters felt like hammers

swung gracefully by unholy hands

to shatter my stained-glass innocence

into shards

that could never

be pieced back together

or do anything more

than sever the ties
between my sister and I

I waited,

was patient numberless years

anticipating the second 

her ears would open like lotuses

and allow my sunlight sentences to seep

into her insides
make her remember

all those conversations

we must have had in Heaven

back when God handpicked us

to be sibling souls

centuries ago

I still remember, her 20th birthday.

Readily recall my awestruck eleven-year old eyes

as I watched

deaf men and women of all ages

dance in unison to the vibrations

of speakers booming so loud

that I imagined angels chastising us

for disturbing their worship

with such beautiful blasphemy

until you have seen

a deaf girl dance
you know nothing of passion.

There was a barricade between us

that I never took the time to destroy

never for even a moment

thought to pick up a book and look up

the sign for sister

for family

for goodbye, I will see you again some day

remember the face of your little brother.

It is only now I see

that I was never willing

to put in the extra effort to love her properly

So as the only person in my family

who is not fluent in sign language

I have decided to take this time

to apologize

Tamara, I am sorry, for my silence.
but true love
knows no frequency.

so I will use these hands

to speak volumes

that could never be contained

within the boundaries of sound waves.

I will shout at the top of my fingertips

until my digits dance

and relay my mental messages

directly to your soul

I know, that there is no poem

that can make up for all the time we have lost

but please, if you can
just listen.

Transcript thanks to The Huffington Post. You can find the article by clicking here.

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