Tuesday, January 22, 2013

One Poem

I really liked Richard Blanco's inaugural poem "One Sun" -- it made me remember flying across the country and thinking of all the different lives going on down there on the ground ...  A poem for the whole country -- what an impossible task! But I think he did a fine job: it's well worth reading or re-reading
 One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the "I have a dream" we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever.
 Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches 
as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father's cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day's gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling, or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open for each other all day, saying: hello
shalom, buon giorno
namaste or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound 
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn't give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together

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Thérèse said...

I am glad I could read Richard Blanco's poem quietly this morning. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poetry24 said...

I'm always learning something new here Vicki, which is why I keep coming back. The poem is a delight.

Ms. A said...

Your photos were the perfect compliment to his words.

Brian Miller said...

nice...it really was a great poem and perfect for the moment as well...and i think it captures the possibilities of us very well..

KarenB said...

Lovely poem - so nice to be able to read it quietly and digest it a bit. Your pictures are a wonderful accompaniment.

Did you read the essay he wrote about his grandmother? Here is a link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-blanco/making-a-man-out-of-me_b_2507024.html?icid=hp_books_popular_art
Heartbreaking and powerful.

Linda@VS said...

I turned on the TV this morning in time for the very end of an interview with Richard Blanco. Seeing him reminded me that I wanted to find his poem and print it out to keep. In the next instant I clicked on the link to your blog, and there was the poem, along with your beautiful images. Thank you, Vicki, for posting the poem--and for the lovely goosebumps.

Barbara Rogers said...

Heartfelt thanks for blend of your appropriate photos with this poem, which was lovely to read today. I will keep it to re-read again too!

Stella Jones said...

Beautiful poem and pictures Vicki.

NCmountainwoman said...

I loved it too! And he did such a fine job reading it. I think it is my favorite since Maya Angelou.

Frances said...

I was working yesterday, and so did not have the opportunity to watch the inauguration ceremony.

Thank you, Vicki, for allowing me to read this fine poem today.


Coloring Outside the Lines said...

That's a fine poem! Nice photos too!

Christine said...

What a delightful poem indeed. And your photos went well with it.

Mel said...

Thank you for posting this, I watched the video online and found it vary moving. I am happy to be able to read it again, with your pictures as accompaniment. Hope you are doing well.

katy gilmore said...

Thank you Vicki for posting this wonderful, somehow hearty, poem. Being out of the country, I missed all the inauguration events, and I'm so glad to have seen this poem first - now to see the speech! Katy