Sometimes It Can Only Be Poetry

Sometimes it can only be poetry that gets us through the cruelest days & the darkest nights ….  when the news reports have only hateful rhetoric to offer, like the governor who proudly announces spending millions of his state’s taxpayer dollars to install buoys in the middle of the Rio Grande River and razor wire on the shore to keep them from entering his great state.

The buoy barrier is just the latest effort in Gov. Abbot’s comprehensive border security plan, “ Operation Lone Star,” which includes busing migrants to sanctuary cities such as New York City and Los Angeles, installing barriers made of barbed and razor wire, and placing additional state checkpoints beyond the existing federal control posts.”

On the days when I find it just too much to bear, I close my eyes, take a deep breath and ask for a poem.  Thank you, Richard Blanco, for this one from your powerfully beautiful collection, How To Love a Country.

Complaint of El Rio Grande

for Aylin Barbieri

I was meant for all things to meet:
to make the clouds pause in the mirror
of my waters, to be home to fallen rain
that finds its way to me, to turn eons
of loveless rock into lovesick pebbles
and carry them as humble gifts back
to the sea which brings life back to me.

I felt the sun flare, praised each star
flocked about the moon long before
you did. I’ve breathed air you’ll never
breathe, listened to songbirds before
you could speak their names, before
you dug your oars in me, before you
created the gods that created you.

Then countries – your inventions – maps
jigsawing the world into colored shapes
caged in bold lines to say: you’re here,
not there, you’re this, not that, to say:
yellow isn’t red, red isn’t black, black is
not white, to say mine, not ours, to say
war, and believe life’s worth is relative.

You named me big river, drew me – blue,
thick to divide, to say: spic and Yankee,
to say wetback and gringo. You split me
in two – half of me us, the rest them. But
I wasn’t meant to drown children, hear
mother’s cries, never meant to be your
geography: a line, a border, a murderer.

I was meant for all things to meet:
The mirrored clouds and sun’s tingle,
birdsongs and the quiet moon, the wind
and its dust, the rush of mountain rain –
and us. Blood that runs in you is water
flowing in me, both life, the truth we
know we know: be one in one another.

And then, after a good (but brief) cry … I go on again. What else can I do? Handwringing has never been my favorite pastime and I am not one to give in to despair … give way, yes, to some well-earned down time (I’ve always found that about 15 minutes of wallowing was enough) and then on to whatever comes next.

In the words of Audre Lorde, “To refuse to participate in the shaping of our future is to give it up. Do not be misled into passivity either by false security (they don’t mean me) or by despair (there’s nothing we can do). Each of us must find our work and do it.”  Last week we mused about our ‘best and highest use’. May we each find what is ours to do and do it. I wouldn’t be surprised if we ran into each other along the way.

Please join us on Sunday, July 23rd for our Conversation with Friends featuring Devon Ervin, author of The Reluctant Caregiver.

Until next time …  do try to sing and dance and laugh a little every day … and especially, be kind.


P.S.  This week we’re posting a special “Inspiration” highlighting the “Localopolis” event that happened last Saturday in Oregon City. A fun time!

Published by Sulima Malzin

This 'Aging Rascal & Occasional Writer' invites you to embrace the world through her open window of poetry, art, activism, music, and humor.

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Absolutely correct! Be kind, be kind, be compassionate…… and, be kind. Actively, don’t just think about it.

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