Mar 252012
 

Thinking about Trayvon Martin today, and all of the conversations going on around his death. There is a whole lot to unpack on that, but I want to try and keep Sunday for poems. So, below are two things: a poem by Nikki Giovanni about the vision of Abraham Lincoln, and an excerpt from Abraham Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address.

At this moment

Resting in the comfort of the statue
Of the 16th president of the United States
Missing
An equally impressive representation
Of his friend and advisor
Frederick Douglas

We come

On this day

Recalling the difficult and divisive war
We are compelled
With a prayer in the name
Of those captured and enslaved
Who with heart and mind
Cleared the wilderness
Raised crops
Brought forth families
Submitted their souls
Before a merciful and great God
To acknowledge that The Civil War
Was fought not to free the enslaved
For they knew they were free
But to free the nation
From a terrible cancer eating at our hearts

At this moment

In which we are embarrassed
By the Governor of our fifth largest state
Who appoints a man to the United States Senate
To which both he and his minion agree:
The Letter of the Law
Is more important than
The Spirit of the Law

Now

When we are dismayed that the accidental
Governor of the Empire State can find
Just one more reason to rain pain
And rejection on a family that has offered only
Grace and graciousness

After two hundred years
When we rejoice that another son
Of the Midwest has offered himself
His wife and his two precious daughters
To show us a better way

We gather

In recognition and understanding
That today is always and forever today
Allowing us to offer this plea
For light
And truth
And Goodness
Forgiving as we are forgiven
Being neither tempted nor intolerant of those who are

We come

At this moment
To renew and refurbish
The American vision
Of Abraham Lincoln

And, excerpts from Abraham Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address:

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully….. 

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

We still have a long way to go.

 

  One Response to “At This Moment”

  1. Thank you for these thoughts.

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