That’s how Amanda Gorman described America in her Inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
But really, she was talking about all of us.
Right after Joe Biden won the 2020 election, I’d joke that on inauguration day, we’d all act like those characters from a cheesy apocalyptic movie from the 70s or 80’s. You know, where the former captives stumble out of their underground prisons, with one hand protecting eyes that haven’t seen the sun in years. I envisioned everyone as slack mouthed, feeling thankful and confused in equal measure.
I didn’t think for one minute I’d actually FEEL that way on inauguration day. I’d become so used to living with dread and uncertainty, thanks to Trump’s erratic leadership, that I couldn’t even tell what I was feeling any more. The night before the event, I vacillated between ‘meh’ and ‘I really hope nobody gets killed’, and thought nothing of it.
It was only when Amanda Gorman told us about America’s broken parts, and urged everyone to be brave, that I realized how deep my — our — trauma was…sorry. Is.
I remember gawking at this beautiful shining Black star draped in yellow (and rocking that red crown), when Lady A, my eldest, asked (in a rather demanding tone, may I say) ‘mummy, who is that lady?” As my brain whirred back into action, I mustered a, “the TV says Amanda Gorman, sweets.”
I’ve never been into the performance part of ‘spoken word,’ you know, the gesticulating just felt so pretentious. But I gotta tell you, it worked for me that morning. I needed her to remind me where the sun was, and show me how to look up again.
So, I tried what she suggested, and you know what, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was confused. I tried to be productive, but instead, stumbled through my tasks. When I finally gave up on that I laughed with loved ones.
In my quiet moments, I reflected on her observation, of being battered and beautiful.