Wednesday, July 4, 2007

This Land We Hold

This is America: all of its sound, its silence;
Clatter of streetcars; riveters hard at work;
Screech of a hard-pressed brake and the blare of horns;
Truck drivers yelling; foghorns on the river.
This, too, is America: the lark's blue cry;
The hot, sweet summer swaying in the wheat;
The creak of windmills and the low of cows;
The barking of a shepherd dog at dusk.

This is America: dusty city streets;
Kids on their roller skates dodging irate cars;
Hawkers of hot dogs at a baseball game;
Slapstick comedy in the movie house.
This, too, is America: wide, clear skies;
Drone of a plane, unarmed and beautiful;
Lamp-lighted windows shining through the snow;
A swelling chorus as the church bells ring.

This is America: factory whistles' shrieks;
The blazing hearth of a steel mill; monstrous cranes
Jockeying to position over molten metal;
Lunch buckets swung by men in sweat-stained shirts.
This, too, is America: salt-sea spray;
Fishing boats off the coast; and the women who wait;
Nets spread to dry; crooked cobbled streets;
Salt-box houses and handmade heirloom quilts.

This is America: gaudy neon lights;
Kaleidoscope scenes of silks and furs and jewels
Against the decorous black-and-white of formal men;
Headwaiters; tooting brasses; hat-check girls.
This, too, is America: a birch-log fire;
Gentle hands to pull a cover straight,
To smooth a tumbled curl from a sleep-flushed cheek;
A man and his wife and children, and his home.

[Christian Science Monitor, date unknown]