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    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.

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    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 cafe 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