japonisme: truly a new year, a new century finally begun

20 January 2009

truly a new year, a new century finally begun

PRAISE SONG
FOR THE DAY

Each day we go about

our business,

walking past each other,

catching each others’ eyes

or not,

about to speak

or speaking.

All about us is noise.


All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din,

each one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem,

darning a hole in a uniform,

patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere

with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum

with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky;

A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words,

words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed;

words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone

and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side;

I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe;

We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day.

Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,

who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce,

built brick by brick the glittering edifices

they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day.

Praise song for every hand-lettered sign;

The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love,

love beyond marital, filial, national.

Love that casts a widening pool of light.

Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,

anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp --

praise song for walking forward in that light.

ELIZABETH ALEXANDER

Jan 20, 2009 12:45 ET


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8 Comments:

Blogger PIGNOUF said...

C'est un grand jour pour l'Amérique et le monde.
A bientôt Lotusgreen

20 January, 2009 12:10  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

merci pignouf -- it's a surreal feeling, but a wonderful one.

20 January, 2009 15:05  
Anonymous evan said...

Wow, a new president (at last). And, what a different feeling- when Dubbya got re-elected, all I could think of was oh, crap. Now, there's a new smell in the air- I think it's hope.

20 January, 2009 15:30  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i think the light looks different.

20 January, 2009 17:12  
Blogger Princess Haiku said...

This poem is very uplifting and it does encourage one to partake of the light.

22 January, 2009 17:44  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i'm so glad to hear that, princess. i like her work and thought she was a cool choice for the inaugural!

22 January, 2009 18:42  
Blogger Roxana said...

this is a fabulous poem. lotus, I have been thinking, I don't think I have ever found here poetry that I don't like. we must have the same taste in this matter (even if you don't like this things I write myself :-)

23 January, 2009 06:00  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i am not sure why i didn't see this comment earlier--i just realized that some forwarding wasn't happening....

it's amazing when tastes overlap even a little!

11 February, 2009 08:29  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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