I have never been glued to the coverage of a presidential inauguration before, but yesterday, as poet Richard Blanco read his poem “One Today,” I was entranced by my computer screen (my mouth may have been hanging open slightly). And after reading the poem and watching the footage again, I am just as enrapt.
You know how many people have this one moment that inspired them to pursue a certain life path or someone they really look up to? Typically, this happens as a child. I really think that moment took place yesterday for me.
As can be seen in some of my past posts, I have quite a few ambitions. But something felt different in me as I watched Richard Blanco read. As the first Latino and openly gay inaugural poet, his reading was ground-breaking. What better person to form a poem when the nation needs unity more than ever?
On a personal level, as a Latina myself, I think the reason his reading struck me was because it was the first time I really felt as if there are no limits to what I can accomplish. I can be published, go to the moon, teach, travel, read in front of a national audience, and, most importantly, have my art taken seriously.
Blanco’s poem was expansive and inspiring. It had nods to national tragedy and national scenery, yet it also got very specific with it’s mention of “pencil-yellow school buses” and fruit “arrayed like rainbows/begging our praise.” I especially liked the ending:
“…all of us —
facing the stars
hope — a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it — together”
What I love about these lines, and the poem in general, is that it focuses on the unity of this country despite our differences or, perhaps, because of them. And isn’t that the point, not just of inauguration day, but also of this nation?
Maybe I’m being dewey-eyed and cheesy, but the inaugural poem felt a lot like truth in its remembrance of where this nation came from. It felt a lot like hope.