Centre of equal daughters, equal sons,
All, all alike endear’d, grown, ungrown, young or old,
Strong, ample, fair, enduring, capable, rich,
Perennial with the Earth, with Freedom, Law and Love,
A grand, sane, towering, seated Mother,
Chair’d in the adamant of Time.
I remember when she almost lived up
to the beatification
old Walt granted her in ’88,
but even he knew the “equal”
in his first line didn’t equal “equal.”
Jim Crow decreed otherwise
and steel from which
the mountain guns used on Americans
at Wounded Knee two years hence
still lay in Mesabi rock.
I wish it was so, Walt’s America,
with its perfectly perfect children,
its forever Freedom, Law and Love.
But I walked Third Street in ’67
and watched that American neighborhood
fade from Walt’s words of greatness,
as others did.
He was right, though, about this place
we’ve been blessed to live.
It is enduring and capable,
even when Mom goes a little insane
falls off her chair or trips
on our scattered and broken toys.
She always manages to stand,
though scarred and maybe gimpy,
to help her children learn again
to pick them up, maybe even
to share with someone else’s kids.
Happy birthday, Walt, I pray
your America and mine meet again
at the border of Art and Life.