talk about it more

a virtual baby book

When she was two, Fiona regularly said "Talk about it more!" to express her desire to know more about whatever we were discussing.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Praise Song for the Day

The following is a transcript of the inaugural poem for our forty fourth President Barack Hussein Obama, recited by Elizabeth Alexander, as provided by CQ transcriptions:

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.

We three watched the inauguration from the warmth and comfort of our kitchen table sipping cocoa and eating popcorn, talking about America's past and America's future. Fiona practiced drawing and printing during the buildup. Nora colored. History has been made today, and we were there for it. Life is good.


At 1:18 AM, Blogger Deborah said...

I. would. have. liked. the. poem. much. better. had. she. not. read. it. like. this.

At 2:29 AM, Blogger Jen said...

I thought that exact thing. Ian and I figured she was trying to get every word out so it could be understood. I expected the author of the poem to read it quite differently. But I still like the message-- maybe even better when it's not read. like. this.

At 12:20 AM, Blogger Teresa said...

That's just how professional poets read their poems. There may even be a required class to learn how to do it during the MFA program.

At 12:51 AM, Blogger Jen said...

What do you know! It's a requirement! Would they be read like that at a cozy poetry reading too? And do you know the rationale behind it? It made it seem like she was reading someone else's work somehow, to read with that cadence.

So interesting!

At 4:55 PM, Blogger Deborah said...

Then I'll know never to order audios of poets reading their own work.


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