Collective Unrest

 

The Old Colossus

September 13, 2018

 

There was a time, once,
when we spoke of tired,
poor, huddled masses
yearning to breathe free,
and we did not mean people
who were already here.

Wretched was not an insult,
and refuse was not a verb.
We imprisoned the lightning,
not the lost.
And spoke of tempest-tost
as though we were not the tempest.

We said that our beacon-hand
glowed world-wide welcome.
That our lamp was lifted
beside a golden door.

Did that America ever truly exist?
Maybe we just spoke those words
because we wished that they were true.

But I wish we still did.

And yes, we still can.

At our sea-washed, sunset gates,
above an air-bridged harbor
where twin towers fell,
a mighty woman still stands.
She persists.

We have torched
who we said we were.
Out of those embers,
we will build who we will be.

 

Dan Norland is a high school history teacher at La Jolla Country Day School in San Diego, California.

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