Thursday, October 1, 2015

Seattle's Civic Poet

The Mayor's Art Awards at Seattle Center on September 4th was the site of my first official reading.
Here I am with Mayor Murray at the Chihuly Garden and Glass right before going onstage .

Photograph courtesy of Marcus Donner

Seattle’s Poem

Seattle is a house
on the comings
and goings
of water and wind
ripple of fish
feather of crow
early morning
ferry yawn

Seattle I say
and invoke
a man and a place
the two inseparable
not proportional
not parallel
but as language
is to poem
and salt to sea

I watch bridges, bicyclists, boats
summer blankets tendered
on public lawns
I watch fiery sunsets
tango and sway above jagged peaks
and autumn trees bursting gold
up and down hilly streets

Nevertheless before
I postcard and gloss
and more sunsets
and more trees
find their way into my lines
I must confess
the house’s foundation
is in places brittle
and many rooms are dark
for windows lack

Plenty have I been
on the receiving end
of rehearsed indifference
heard enough shallow
arguments on who belongs here
to wake up scooping
ocean water with a spoon
we are all here
that need to be

The city is concrete and steel
plus the sum of its people
every day we destroy
our house
then race to remake it
those narrow windows
block future’s view
mute voices
that need to be heard
muffle the sound
of the falling tree limb
heavy with ripe plums

Every day we tread
over Chief Sealth’s legacy
his prophetic words,
“At night when the streets
are silent (..) and you think
them deserted,
they will throng
with the returning hosts
that once filled them
and still love this land”

We are not alone
save for his people
we are all immigrants here
waiter, teacher,
artist, worker, nurse
we belong
all of us belong
Seattle is a house
we all need to afford

Claudia Castro Luna