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Pilgrimage to Woodstock - Nancy Manning

Aboard this museum bus painted with Flower Power

designs, I listen to audio and feel like I’m a hippie

from Haight Ashbury along for the ride.


During my youth, I witnessed the turbulence

of the 60’s, night after night on TV--

the bombing of Vietnam, our boys burning

draft cards, Blacks being beaten. It’s clear why

the concert was held.


Ticket stubs yellowed behind glass. I still wish

I attended. I study quotes from planners, examine

photos, watch film. Learn that sponsors paid

performers, Max Yasgur.


Outside on this sacred hill, the music lives on.

I hear “Freedom” ring out from Ritchie Havens

in his mustard peasant shirt and pants as he keeps beat

on a conga. With her acoustic guitar and flowing hair, Joan Baez convinces me “We Shall Overcome.” Santana keeps

me “Waiting” through a rapturous drum solo that mesmerizes.

The Band sings “The Weight” and my soul sings along

as I pull into Nazareth. In a trance, Grace Slick belts

about having “Somebody to Love.” Jimi Hendrix closes

the concert with his legendary anthem. His electric guitar

vibrates in anguish, a tribute to a generation lost in turmoil.

I step between black cairns marking the stage.

Gray stones form peace signs and hearts. I imagine

a crowd of a half million people and bow. I can’t offer

music, but I can recite poetry as the sky melts

into sunset. Dawn a whisper away.

 

Nancy Manning holds an MFA in poetry from Southern Connecticut State University. Her work has appeared in an eclectic mix of publications; most recently Humans of the World posted her poem "To Those Watching and Listening." Her poetry collections are entitled Amethyst Garden, The Unspoken of Our Days, and the newly released What Glues Us Together; her novel Undertow of Silence won the TAG publishing award.

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