A Lenten Meditation on America

March 25th, 2019

I am the one for whom America was made
The one for whom the valiant soldiers fought
The one designers hoped would care
With life and hand protect this land of hill and shade

I am the one for whom America was bought
The unborn one ancestors hoped to bear
The one that dreamers hoped obeyed
The law of God and land that they had learned and taught

I am the one for whom America lies bare
My mouth the yawning maw that ate the plains
Mistakes I wish I had not made
Disgrace the land and stain its waters and its air

I am the one for whom America remains
Still bound by founders' oath and guilt of blade
She's faithful til she heals the rift
And stains made on the land by nation's labor pains

You are the ones for whom America was gift:
The treasure to be held in pail or spade
A harvest bounty gleaned by toil
On land attended to with gratitude and thrift

You are the ones of whom America was said
Had levelled ground between the poor and royal
Had set men free to God from king
On land of purple mountains, fruited plains and glades

You are the ones by whom America was soiled
You bought and sold her beauty like a thing
Indulged on freedom, forewent shrift
Nowhere more blatant than the way you burnt your oil

You are the ones for whom America still sings
Despite your follies, still her spirits lift
To think of how your hearts would beat
As you worked on the land and wore her grass like rings

They are the ones with whom America would meet
For long before she was called by that name
On hill and glen and grove they laid
On land they tended to with careful hands and feet

They are the ones for whom America cries “Shame!”
No nation's great that's built by men afraid
Who torn from home have lost their own
And work the land of men whose greed had spoiled their aim

They are the ones for whom America must fade
Into the shadow of the light she shone
Despite her pride she must retreat
Or suffer wrath of God and land she disobeyed

They are the ones to whom America has shown
That life continues after full defeat —
That hopes are set, that plans are made
That seeds must sink into the land when they are sown

We are the ones by whom America was made
The nation's face takes all of us to make
From Norway's coast, Oaxaca's hills
From ancient land domestic, and exotic jade

We are the ones from whom America must take
identity; she searches for it still —
Each word we say guides her way
Each foot upon her land becomes her for her sake

We are the ones by whom America is ill
This is the night — we must await the day
The balm is poured — the priests are bade
The land awaits in silence; let be done Thy will.

. . . . .

We are the ones in whom America must stay
Come resurrection or the battle's fray
The stage is set; the parts are played:
Will freedom ring upon this land as we have prayed?