Monday, April 11, 2016

Monday's Poetry: "Matters of the Sea"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Poet Richard Blanco's work was first featured in this blog on January 20th, 2013 - the day Barack Obama was sworn in for his second four-year term as our President.  The President had invited Blanco to read a poem at the inauguration, and the poet wrote "One Today" especially for the occasion.  I was able to get that poem onto this blog before the applause for Blanco's recitation died away at the Capitol.

Last year Richard Blanco was again called on by his government to offer up another original poem for a special occasion.  This time the celebration centered on the re-opening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba.  Blanco, who was conceived in Cuba to Cuban parents, born in Spain, and took his first steps as a new resident of the United States, identifies as a Cuban-American.  Standing next to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Blanco read the following poem which he had written especially for the occasion. 

No matter the anthems we sing or the things we recognize as borders, the sea and the stars bind us all to our planet and to each other.  Richard Blanco recognizes this unity of humanity in his very powerful poem.
Matters of the Sea

By Richard Blanco

The sea doesn't matter
What matters is this
We all belong to the sea between us, all of us
Once and still the same child
Who marvels over starfish
Listens to hollow shells,
Sculpts dreams into impossible sand castles.

We've all been lovers holding hands
Strolling either of our shores
Our footprints,
Like a mirage of cells
Vanished in waves that don't know their birth

Or care on which country they break, they break
Bless us and return to the sea

Home to all our silent wishes.

No one is the other to the other to the sea
Whether on hemmed island or vast continent
Remember our grandfathers
Their hands dug deep
Into red or brown earth
Planting maple or mango trees that outlive them
Our grandmothers
Counting years while dusting photos of their weddings
Brittle family faces
Still alive on our dressers now.

Our mothers
Teaching us how to read in Spanish or English
How to tie our shoes
How to gather fall’s colors or bite into  guavas
Our fathers
Worn by the weight of clouds clocking in at factories
Or cutting sugar cane
To earn a new life for us.

My cousins and I
Now scouting the same stars
Above skyscrapers or palms
Waiting for time to stop and begin again
When rain falls
Washes its way through river or street
Back to the sea.

No matter what anthem we sing
We've all walked barefoot and bare soul
Among the soar and dive of seagull cries
We've offered our sorrows and hopes up to the sea
Our lips anointed by the  same spray of salt-laden wind
We fingered our memories and regrets
Like stones in our hands that we just can't toss
Yet, we've all cupped seashells to our ears
Listen, again to the echo
Today the sea still telling us
The end to our doubts and fears
Is to gaze into the lucid blues  of our shared horizon
To breathe and heal.

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