Minnesota State Fair Poem: We Are All of Us

Pan Flute Band
The Andean band Ecuador Manta, at the Minnesota State Fair.
MPR Photo/Ochen Kaylan

We Are All of Us

By Leslie Ball

In a small patch of green between the Caribbean cafe and the restrooms

I sit beneath an aspen tree tapping my foot to a band from Ecuador.

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The drummer smiles down at the woman behind a table spread with merchandise.

She is dancing in place holding a CD up in hand as she sways from side to side.

She's watching the center of the dance floor where ten feet away

A silver-haired woman stands alone directly in front of the stage

Clapping her hands and rocking back and forth.

She's smiling as she watches two teenage girls in hijabs

Deep in conversation in a nearby table bobbing their heads in rhythm to the music.

As I watch, a young mother approaches and sits on the bench next to me.

In one graceful swoop, she shrugs off her backpack, pulls out sundry items

And changes her son's diaper all in less than half a minute.

Throughout the entire procedure, she never stops shimming to the music

And never once takes her eye off of her son's face

Who never takes his eyes off of mine.

Our fair is more than food-fest and farm animals

For these twelve days, we are all of us

Gathered together and swept up into one fluid choreography

Of pleasure, tenderness and curiosity