Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Iced Fog

Iced fog - sounds like a decorator color.  We have been living in a world of icy fog for a whole week.  It feels surreal and weird.  Waking up and not being able to see more than the hazy outline of the house across the street.  All day long in a world of grey quiet, nothing much moving.  A blanket covers everything, everyone, and slows things down to a sort of limbo.  And by evening, the fog lowers down even further so that street lights are just glowing orbs in a world of frigid heaviness.

I saw the movie "Chasing Ice" the other night, and if you haven't seen it, you really should go.  It's gorgeous and miraculous and terrifying all at once.  Climate change is the single most scariest thing ever.  It's so big, so overwhelming.  I don't know how we fix it.  We've waited too long.  And we're not doing hardly anything about it.  Terrifying.

And in the midst of this unsettling week, there's the presidential inauguration, which was beautiful.  The very best moment (besides seeing the Prez stop at the top of the steps as he was leaving to look out again and take in all the crowds and drink in the moment) was the inaugural poem by Richard Blanco.  I thought it was incredibly beautiful and moving.    I had not heard of him before, but am going to spend more time reading his work.  What a perfect choice all around.

If you missed it, here's the transcript.  Mostly it's here for me though.  So I can keep it in a safe place and come back again and again to re-read it.

"One Today"
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.
- Richard Blanco