of a poem by Therese L. Broderick
to be read publicly on November 4th and 5th
for Breathing These Words
(a sub-project of Breathing Lights)
Dar A Luz
~to give birth (literally, to give to light)
Here at our feet we endow a shrine
in honor of the many generations who alighted from
this Clinton Avenue threshold
bearing hand-held candles, lanterns, lamps,
flickering & garlanded luces de Navidad,
flashlights, cameras, the first iPhones.
For the seamstress, carpenter, clerk or barber
who once cleansed this spot with broom and mop,
for tenants who swept away autumn’s samaras
and owners who shoveled snow—
I now place here a silver frame with photograph
of immigrants inhabiting their new porches.
One of you may wish to add by hand
an amber beer or soda bottle rinsed
and filled with the brief-blossoming stems
of curbside roses. Another may wish to unveil
a polished golden cross or a necklace glistening
with storied pendants—stars, crescents, ovals.
Medialunas, estrellas, cruces, óvalos.
And for the sake of Peace, someone must retrieve
a few stark silhouettes—newspaper clippings
of young recruits headed to the Albany Armory,
soldiers, sailors, pilots, nurses who from these steps
had kissed their loved ones farewell.
On behalf of wartime’s brides and embattled widows
which one of us can spare
an old cookbook, scrawled recipes for lemon pudding?
Who can bequeath to fatherless girls and motherless boys
some rubber balls & jacks, gleaming marbles?
Tonight, in truce, we illuminate from floor to roof
this house with a clear view, casa con vista, of Pearl Street,
the beaming port, our valley’s glimmering river.
Windows glowing from a new century’s
battery cells & diode strips
magnify our gifts as they swell from dim to bright,
nearly timed to the moon waxing above us, globe
fertile with reflections. May we occupy this moment’s
rebirth. All of us, todos, ocupemos la luz.