~to give birth (literally, to give light)
We gather to remember the generations
who alighted this Albany threshold
with hand-held candles, lanterns, lamps,
Luces de Navidad.
For the seamstress, carpenter, or barber
who once cleansed this space with broom and mop,
who swept away autumn’s samaras
and in winter brushed off the glittering snow—
let us nestle at our feet a shining shrine.
Un santuario centelleante.
Set down here some old gold
picture frames—photos of children posing
for street parades, seated on gleaming ponies.
Set down some stark silhouettes of new recruits
who from these steps had kissed their mothers
farewell. Soldiers, sailors, pilots, nurses.
Las enfermeras, los enfermeros.
One of us may wish to place here
a wine or soda bottle, rinsed and filled
with the blossoming stems
of curbside roses. Another may drape
a necklace strung with a single polished cross
or star, crescent or oval.
Medialuna, estrella, cruce, óvalo.
Which one of us can spare
on behalf of those brides and myriad widows
an old cookbook, scrawled recipes for lemon pudding?
Who can bequeath to tomorrow’s children
rubber balls & jacks, shimmering marbles?
These windows glowing with a new century’s
battery cells magnify our gifts. Light strips swell
from dim to bright, timed to the moon
waxing above us, sphere fertile with reflections
of distant undying flames.
Otra luna, otro sol, otras llamas.
We must occupy rebirth: this threshold
given light, this doorway in clear view
of Pearl Street and our glimmering river.
La calle de las perlas. Las perlas de nuestro río.
by Therese L. Broderick