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      ONE TODAY by Richard Blanco, written for and read at Presidential Inauguration January 21, 2013.

      b20 21One 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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