WEB EXTRA: Text of Inaugural Poem

Created: 01/22/2013 9:00 AM KSTP.com By: Jennie Olson

Text of poem "One Today" written and recited by Richard Blanco at the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as provided by the Presidential Inaugural Committee:
    
___
    
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, howdy, 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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