People of the Pinch

Written by Ashley Fine

People of the Pinch being read by Belle Starr at the Arcosanti Convergence.

Thanks Lucas Mullikin and Sean-Paul von Ancken for this video.

We are the people of the pinch
We cup our eager palms beneath a narrow funnel
And catch a thin trickle of the future in our hands.

History pours herself into a wide stretched mouth
And surrounds the tongue with stories of our origins
Remembering the taste of our past

From wild beginnings of grass and seed
We selected in succession
The tree of life spread her leg-ish limbs
And gave birth to accidental forms.

Saving each success
We gathered baskets of grain and medicine,
Fruit and fuel
The edifice of civilization was constructed in muddy furrows
By women kneeling down, on calloused knees,
In fields they made fertile.

Time favors change
and living lends to loss
But adversity ushers in diversity
And mutation is the enzyme of our evolution

Yet, we the people,
are now pinched.
We fill our plates with food we cannot taste
Grown by the farmer that has no face.
We tear open the bag to eat
Things we cannot digest.
Homogeny hits the back of the throat,
And we choke in the bottleneck built by our industry

The straight carrot shows no dirt.
The white corn has no worm.
Red and Delicious,
Washed and Waxed,
Packaged in Plastic for supermarket stage lights.
We’ve adopted a uniform of uniformity and cinched our belts too tight.
We exhale into our own extinction and have left no space to breathe.

Yet, we are the people of the pinch.
Let us throw off these clothes
And sew a new pair of genes
Out of homespun fabric, woven on our heirlooms

Let us slip on a new seed coat, colorful, and imperfect
And stretch open our limbs, once again.

In our abandonment of abundance
We must save what most cannot remember.
We must preserve our stories in cool jars,
Stored in dry darkness.

We are the people of the pinch
Who winnow the chaff
And dust the wind with old seeds
that will nourish a new generation

We are the people of the pinch
Who reincarnate our ancestors in small gardens.
Who tend to gnarled roots and blind worms
Knowing they will reinvent our waste
Into fresh fruit for us to eat.

As people of the pinch
Let us give thanks to the water table for filling the dinner table,
Let us honor the bee for making our milk.

Let us taste the labor in our lettuce,
and sunshine in our butter.
Let us lift our glasses and amplify our voices,
Singing a chorus of gratitude and praise.

Here’s to the cross pollinators… and the cross dressers
Here’s to the self pollinators… and the self-employed farmers

Let us cultivate tri-colored carrots in our gardens
And cultivate equity for all colors of people in our communities

Here’s to the farm workers and the dishwashers,
To the elders and the infants
Here’s to the rhizomes
The sturdy roots on which we build our homes.
Here’s to the people of the pinch.