Richard Blanco’s poem for today’s inauguration of President Barack Obama as his second term begins was a whole lot of firsts for an inaugural poet — the first Hispanic (or Latino) speaker of his kind at such a ceremony, as well as the first openly gay one.
On Twitter, Richard Blanco’s name is trending, as well as references to his moving work regarding America’s future. The piece (in full, below) was an ode to a more harmonious, accepting and united America — one that seemed especially poignant following an election season marked by division, percents and attempts to turn perceived sections of America against one another to rally for a political cause.
But the election is over, and as President Obama took office for the second time, Americans listened to Richard Blanco’s words about a better America — one that is more hopeful, more accepting, more giving of love and tolerance than what we have been sold in attack ads.
Celebrities and Twitter civilians alike praised Blanco’s “One Day,” speaking of its themes and positive vibe in a time where America has much to heal from:
So many firsts today. Richard Blanco, first Hispanic and openly gay man to read poem at Inaugural. His work brought him to this moment.
— Maria Shriver (@mariashriver) January 21, 2013
Hear: the doors we open for each other all day, saying: hello| shalom, buon giorno |howdy |namaste |or buenos días – Richard Blanco
— Molly Stevens (@mstevenscooks) January 21, 2013
Below, Richard Blanco’s “One Day,” in full, as it was recited during President Obama’s second inauguration earlier today:
One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.
My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem.
All of us as vital as the one light we move through,
the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:
equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,
the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,
or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain
the empty desks of twenty children marked absent
today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light
breathing color into stained glass windows,
life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth
onto the steps of our museums and park benches 2
as mothers watch children slide into the day.
One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk
of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat
and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills
in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands
digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands
as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane
so my brother and I could have books and shoes.
The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains
mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it
through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,
buses launching down avenues, the symphony
of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,
the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.
Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling, or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open
for each other all day, saying: hello| shalom,
buon giorno |howdy |namaste |or buenos días
in the language my mother taught me—in every language
spoken into one wind carrying our lives
without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.
One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed
their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked
their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:
weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report
for the boss on time, stitching another wound 3
or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,
or the last floor on the Freedom Tower
jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.
One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes
tired from work: some days guessing at the weather
of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love
that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother
who knew how to give, or forgiving a father
who couldn’t give what you wanted.
We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country—all of us—
facing the stars
hope—a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it—together