Thursday, November 6, 2008

I am ...

by Julie Redstone

I am America.

I am blueberry muffins and eggs-over-easy in silverfoil diners

with blue neon signs and newspapers out front,

where the regulars come to fill up on warmth and

the everpresent feeling of family,

I am picnic baskets made of straw, and tall grass with milkweed,

worn blankets to sit on, and the smell of new mown hay

drifting past from a farm nearby,

I am playgrounds with rusty swings and ancient maple trees,

and water fountains with bubbly spouts

that little children gleefully reach toward

as they try to catch the moving water with their tongues,

I am fourth-of-July parades, and lawn chairs, and iced tea on the front porch,

and the smell of chicken roasting in the oven,

and friends coming over for coffee and fresh-baked pie and a little talk,

I am polka festivals and Saturday-night dancing

with Hank Tomarr and the Harmonics,

and clean white shirts at Sunday church,

and innocence, not arrogance,

I am rolling hills, and dirty streets, and windswept plains,

and airless apartments in cities that are always lit,

whose elegance lies in ancient fire escapes

that are havens in the summer heat,

I am chlorine-blue city pools, and laughter of children,

and washrooms that smell of disinfectant,

and young mothers with the eyes of eagles watching their young,

I am the suffering of the lonely, of the hungry, of the dreamless

who live without hope, and who hope only to escape

from the dreamlessness,

I am the icons of the fast-food world – hamburgers and cokes,

pizza and buffalo wings, french fries and happy meals,

I am speed of life wanting more and more speed,

striving for more and more doing,

no time to sit, no time to listen, no time,

And I am lazy days of going nowhere, of wondering what it all means,

of waking up, for a moment, beyond the things I do,

into a wondering of who I am.

I am freedom. I am possibility. I am golden opportunity

knocking at the door at every moment,

And I am also the closed and silent door for the many who strive

to hear the sound of opportunity but cannot,

I am prayer and I am gratitude – to that which watches over freedom

and creates endless possibility – to the Source of life itself.

I am America.

I am strong, I am proud, I am weak, I am vain,

I am childlike, I am brash, I am plainspoken, I am noble,

I am wise, I am foolish, I am young, I am ancient,

I am the flame of endless possibility –

the golden promise of an open-ended Life.


I am America.

I am aging vinyl curtains that frame the voting booths

in tree-lined towns in Mississipi, Missouri, Delaware and New Jersey,

the curtained booths that contain the seeds of democracy

given new life with every pull to close them,

I am ten thousand newspapers with glaring headlines

and pictures of those involved in the latest scandal

that unbridled power creates,

the latest corruption, the latest unthinking act of indifference,

I am the stories of violence heaped on violence, heaped on violence,

the latest murder, the latest tragic loss of life, the latest act of despair,

I am the victims of anger, of forgetfulness, of spiritual eclipse,

and the perpetrators as well,

I am their expression, and I am their healing,

I am America.

I am the flags waving in front yards or hung in trees

beside worn clapboard houses,

Their red, white, and blue proudly displayed,

even when nothing else of the house stands out with pride,

I am tunes on the radio that come in long drinks –

the twang of strings and guitar singing the seasons of the heart,

the soulful landscape of love and loss,

of hope and betrayal, of life and death,

I am the reflection within all of the poignant and tender search

for grace and redemption,

the goal of the promised land, the land of ease, the promise of peace.

I am America.

I am the land of plenty,

I am pancakes in the morning with syrup running across warm plates,

and raspberries in winter,

and oranges and apples shipped from around the world,

and big cars, and closets full of clothing,

and stores bulging with more than anyone has a right to desire,

I am also the land of poverty,

where children go hungry amidst the plenty,

where the silent cry of despair hovers over families

that cannot make ends meet,

who suffer even more to see all that others throw away,

I am one nation but live as two, with part of me invisible to the rest,

obscured by a shroud of denial –

the denial of a heart that fears to lose what it has gained

so that others may have,

I am America.

I am rich, I am poor. I am noble, I am callous.

I am inspired, I am numb. I am generous, I am selfish.

I am, in the end, growing, as a child grows, as a tree grows,

as the world grows, out of what has been into what will be,

Becoming the light and form of my destiny.

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Nothing makes you more tolerant of a neighbor's noisy party than being there. ~ Franklin P. Jones
Attitude is a Choice.