On this morning,
birthed by a prolonged and pregnant darkness,
I step out into the electric blast
where heaven steals across the sky,
the dawn sweeping its determined grace
across a bleak and wintry vault.
But I do not feel the cold,
only the blessing
of the snow’s silent embrace
and the prayer of the trees,
their frosted branches extended, arms
waiting to hold this fresh and pristine promise.
Beneath my feet, the soundlessness
of slumbering earth pulls deep.
And I am struck by a presence as piercing
as the starlings’ call though they, too, have abandoned
this stark and leafless morn
for the sweeter song that plays
— waft of preternatural voices,
ancients and sages, poets and visionaries,
warriors who have midwifed the arrival
of our brave and august son.
As I join my steps with theirs, the thousands
who have bled, known the bull’s-eye
of injustice, unhallowed siege of self,
and yet spilled their light
from an unconquerable heart
I shed my future longing,
release my broken dreams.
On this magnificent morning,
this extravagantly improbable day,
I am walking deep in winter
with my eyes on the rosebud in spring.
Note: This poem was subtitled “Inauguration 2009” because that’s when I wrote it (though it’s been revised since that initial heady outpouring). I know today will be a challenging, fearful day for many. But we have all been charged with carrying that cup of hope, and we are all tenders in the garden of our humanity.