DRAFT #2 of a poem
by Therese L. Broderick
for project Breathing These Words
Albany, New York (USA)
~ to give birth (literally, to give light)
Tonight I pledge to this venerable address
My words, las palabras, my voice, la voz.
Let us assemble a front porch shrine,
nuestro santuario: shining gold or silver
Picture frames that harbor silhouettes
Of immigrant couples who braced
These rooms, stairwells, porches, roofs,
Who died in front parlors, who gave birth
To children in wallpapered third-story
Bedrooms. Let us offer a yellow ribbon
For every soldier who kissed his mother
Goodbye from the sidewalk; and for every warrior
Missing in action, let us hold a vase cut
From crystal, or a bottle of brown blown glass
Filled with tap water and the blossoming
Stems of storm cellar roses.
Here I stand. Here you stand. We face
A vacant threshold, the sealed front door
To a once-upon-a-time dwelling—
Yesterday’s casa con vistas. But this evening
windows are brightening with lullabying
Light bulbs, smooth tubes, their soft throats
Pulsing bright & dim, breathing along
With the blinkers of overhead passenger planes,
With the flaring greens of lightning bugs
Who skim the grassy lots flowing
From the Hudson to the Mohawk rivers,
From the Normanskill to the Poestenkill.
Let us lay here a notebook of scrawled recipes
For every newlywed wife who had to flee
Another burning row house, leaving behind
Her grandmother’s first cookbook; and let us
Set down a hand-stitched doll or rubber ball
For every child who ever yearned to crawl,
Stand, walk, run, skip, hopscotch, or jump over
Ropes held taught by friends from down the alley.
Let us be quiet, too—un silencio nocturno
Inviting the placid moon, la luna de paz
Phase by phase to occupy this evening’s cradles.
Welcome mats, door wells, window sills, altars.