The Words

The building’s silver siding reflected trees
And brick row houses
On the opposite side of the street
While the light wept onto the floor
Inside the gymnasium of painted cinder blocks.
Where the beggars had unrolled their mats
And stood in rows with their heads bent.

A moment passed before they joined palms
And began to mutter the ancient words of
Peace and harmony,
Words meant for every race and class,
Sex and religion, dog, trout and fly.
This was a plea for a utopia that
Had once been tasted in a secret garden
Outside of time.

But the words were woven during an era
Of myth and magic, before steel and science,
And the meaning had changed,
Power weakened by the inevitability
of war and famine, plague and greed.
All this while the planet watched,
Turning in her orbit, contracting her forests
Expanding her waters.

Yet the words continued to flow,
Good and kind,
Like rivers that bend and twist
Through upstate hills and mountains
Crying streams of fresh, gold water,
Over pebbles with schools of small fish
that swim too quickly to catch.
Anonymous yet named.

After the words were spoken,
The beggars touched their hands to the floor,
The sound fleshy and warm,
And moved together in a prescribed pattern.
Hope distilled in song
Descended from an ancient time,
That still in our darkest nightmares,

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