Praise Song for the Day

Happy Monday Tuesday!  I had every intention of posting yesterday like every weekday, but I couldn’t have anticipated what became my events of yesterday.  Having spent the weekend in Washington D.C., we decided to forego the crowds since we were Inauguration ticketless and get back to Chicago in time to watch all of the festivities from our couch, where I would post for the day.  As soon as we checked our bags and were heading down the escalator towards the security line, the text message came through like Charlie unwrapping his candy bar revealing the golden ticket.  One of my college roommates had scored additional Inaugural tickets and was sharing them with us! I hightailed it out of the airport to the Metro line and made my way to the U.S. Capitol to wait in line to go through security before settling like canned sardines on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to witness the 57th Inauguration.  It was a beautiful day – significantly warmer from four years ago when my family, friends and I huddled at the Washington Monument and watched the screens with the Capitol building in the far backdrop.

What would have been posted yesterday was the 2009 Inaugural Poem written and recited by Elizabeth Alexander.

Praise Song for the Day

 Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
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 some one 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 thyself,
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 pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.

What was your favorite part of yesterday’s Inaugural festivities?


One thought on “Praise Song for the Day

  1. Pingback: 57th Inauguration « The Harrises of Chicago

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