What a day. I was crying from the moment Nancy Pelosi spoke, to the time Reverend Lowery gave his benediction. Crying, wiping my tears away with my wooly scarf. Huddling in the chilly hallway with most of the faculty and students here at the school because the network in the lecture rooms was down. Every word was poetic, beautiful, and it spoke to me of what is possible. Even Obama’s stumble when Roberts screwed up the oath spoke to me of his humanity. Of his humility.
Most of all, I loved Elizabeth Alexander’s poem. Just maybe not the delivery. To me, when I read these words I hear Obama’s voice. Triumphant. Confident. Assuring. That said, I’m not sure I could’ve read it any better in front of 500 gazillion people. The poem is wonderful, reminding me both of Nikki Giovanni’s
Praise song for the day.
by Elizabeth Alexander
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 consider 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.