I wrote this poem on January 20, 2009, the day that President Barack Obama was inaugurated — and was delighted when it took First Place as “The Inaugural Poem We Should Have Had,” a competition sponsored by Australia-based absolutewrite.com.
Invite me into the circle and guide me to the spot that bears my name
Escort me with a steadying touch, loose your hold and bear me aloft
Include my joy and ebullience, my hope and promise,
The tracks of endless tears and the wounds of struggle and pain
that have marked the past.
Include me raw and refined, defiant, quiescent
Include me enriched and diminished, broken and healed
Embrace me as the one anointed and demeaned,
Privileged and impoverished by stature, circumstance
or the trajectory of an inconstant moon.
Include my willingness.
Reap the fruits of surrender I have cultivated for this moment
Lead me through a doorway unadorned, a hallway lined with latency,
Pass the drinking gourd so that all who thirst,
May sip the undilute nectar of belonging.
Include me as woman, man, brother, sister, parent, child
Include me offering and offered, receiving and giving, creator and creation
Weave the strands of my soul into a blossoming tapestry of voices,
Joined by the shared heart of humanity and a long-aching hunger for unity.
Use every part of me
Include the infinitesimal and the inestimable
Lift me at once to my full height and humility
Draw out my hidden gifts and squandered talents
And draw me into the arms of others who await my arrival.
I am here in this Now,
Filled with passion, with purpose
My prayer but so simple: