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Posts Tagged ‘United States of America’

For your birthday, I’m sending you

the sunflowers in my garden,

which is to say, I send you

something unfinished,

something with so much room

left to grow.

America, I send you

the space above the sunflowers

a space they will reach into.

There is so much promise

of beauty in you, America,

so much blossoming yet to do.

America, you’re right if you think this is symbolic.

So I send you the sunflower’s roots, too.

We all know what happens without them.

America, here’s what I most want to say—

I believe in you, America, and all the hands

that tend your soil. Happy Birthday.

It’s time to get out of your own shade.

Happy Birthday. You’ve got this.  

Home of the brave.

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In a time of national crisis, what our country really needs is a good poem.

—Herbert Hoover

 

This is the time when we must say to the stranger,

the other, sit here. Notice how difficult it can be

to even come to the same table, how hard

to look the other in the eye. Something in us screams,

“Right, I am right.” And it is hard to hear the voice

beneath that scream, a whisper of a gospel that says

nothing at all.

 

This is the time when we must say to ourselves,

I am also the stranger, when we must look

in the mirror and not know who it is we see—

someone capable of being more courageous,

more compassionate, more devoted, more

astonishingly vulnerable and connected

than we ever knew ourselves to be. Who

is that stranger in the mirror, we must ask,

and vow to never let her down.

 

This is the time when we must write the poems

our country needs, the poem that builds the bridge

from truth to truth and never touches the river

of lies. The poem that allows our country

to fall in love with itself again, the poem

with enough places set at its table

that everyone knows they have a place to sit

and the rest of us know when that person is missing

because their chair is empty.

 

This is the time for the beauty that passes

all understanding, a testament of goodness

that cannot be contained, a congress of delight.

This is the time to pick up your pen

and with your most tender, beautiful self

fight.

 

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We will learn we cannot live

without each other—those who fight

 

and those who chant for peace,

those who vote for more government

 

and those who vote for less.

We will come to know, as E. O. Wilson says,

 

that our need to oppose the other

rises out of our biology

 

and it serves us, though it looks

sometimes like war.

 

We are falling together,

no matter which side we’re on.

 

We will learn that the only way

to rise is together, too—though it may

 

not look anything like we thought

it would. Every day, the world

 

grows more insistent. Every day

more reasons to drop our certainties

 

and listen.

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