This poem was originally written on request and publicly recited by then Seattle Mayor, Norm Rice (a Black American) for the reopening of Key Arena and the Founders’ Fountain at the Seattle Center on 28 October 1995.  At that time, what the poem expresses was an aspiration shared by the Mayor and me.  Norm Rice did not make a speech on the occasion but effectively and with emotion read the poem to a sizeable gathering of citizens.  Are we now, finally, coming into the hour of history when the aspiration of such words becomes shared reality? 

Throughout the ages we have traveled,

bearing the burdens and suspicions of history,

blinded to one another

and to the miracles of the living planet.

 

Men and women, women

men, with one eye closed, with one

ear deafened by self-absorption.  Never

aware of one another’s dreams, barely

aware of our own intruding footsteps. Yet

 

searching, somehow seeking, destined

to discover the mythic center that is

the heart of all thriving hearts, that is

the elemental bonding of planetary chemistry.

 

Now I am here,

today, alive on this ground, beneath

this great Northwestern sky, finding

my humanity extended through the diversity

of all that lives and shares.  It

 

lives.  And he and she, and this

vast excellence of ordinary otherness abides,

surrounds me.  And I (as I have said) am here.

Here, where water leaps and where stone,

crafted, rises in athletic postures. Where

the flame of artful love kindles a

warmth of storytelling truth to ease

our nervous and our embarrassed souls.

 

Throughout all,

all those epoch, those eras, those eons, those

faulted mirrors of misperception and

rude misjudgments, we have traveled, generation

by generation—now, here

 

no longer bear or man distinct, no longer wolf

or woman outlawed, not orca here and children there; not

black or white, not brown or red, but

opening friendship’s deepest harmony, here,

at this center, in this space gathered, in

this articulate hour

 

when we offer our hands in the circle of life,

of emotional geometry, when we have

wings as well as arms, when we share joys

along with sorrows.

 

At this center; at this

spot, as a democracy

of mythographers.  Before this water; this

yielding water; as a convocation

of sojourners.  And beside each true

and witnessing tree, as a generation

of evergreens and as simple inhabitants

of one, all-mother earth.

 

David Sparenberg

written 25 October 1995, 3 days before recital

David Sparenberg is a world citizen, environmental & peace advocate & activist, actor, poet-playwright, storyteller, teacher and author.


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