Tuesday, May 18, 2010

on community

When I was a freshman in college—
Still new enough in the world
To take on projects that were probably beyond me—
I sat down and tried to make a list
Of the names of every person I knew,
From my first grade teacher
To the dreadlocked girl who lived down the hall.
I gave up once I hit about
Five hundred.

At least five hundred people
Whose names and faces I kept
In some corner of my mind,
Crammed together in some sort of
Baroque filing system only
My long-term memory neurons get—
And only a handful that I think
Dwell in my heart (a much
Cozier cubbyhole),

Whom I would want to invite
To dinner underneath the blessing of
A Texas sunset, with whom I would
Break some bread, pour some wine,
Gather around a table like a
Company of warriors after a long battle.

And when I think of that feast
Your face is there, your name is spoken
With affection by everyone around.
We look over the plates and the forks and knives,
Catch the other’s eye, and smile knowingly,
Knowing that we are known,
We are loved, and we belong–
Not a list of anonymous names,
But lives, storylines, family.

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