The Problem We All Live With
Wednesday, 17 August 2022 20:14

The Problem We All Live With

Published in Poetry

Gabriel Rosenstock presents a tanka in Irish and English, written in response to Norman Rockwell's 1964 masterpiece The Problem We All Live With, (above)  

is bóthar fada é
chun na scoile, a Ruby
tóg céim ar céim é
bróga is stocaí geala
ag lonrú faoin ngréin, 'Ruby

a long way to school
a long way to school, Ruby
one step at a time
your white shoes and white stockings
gleaming in the sun, Ruby

This is a bilingual ekphrastic tanka, in Irish and English, following the 5-7-5-7-7 configuration of 31 syllables. The painting depicts six-year old Ruby Bridges in 1960 on her way to an all-white school during the New Orleans desegregation crisis. The marshals are cropped, headless, but we can see the N-word on the wall, bloodied by a smashed tomato, and on the top left hand corner the ominous letters of the Klan.