When culture colors your steps and tints your lens
you see the fine print clearly
the rarely glimpsed enters your perfect vision
and you notice the eclectic wonder
of people passing through life at their own rhythm.
We are a city of wanderers who planted our roots
in the ground that once held a forest lovingly in its grasp.
The variety of the trees that still line the streets
are likewise elders standing guard
protecting a legacy yet to be discovered.
They watch over the children who will one day
be neighbors or relatives by geography or birth.
Were you born here?
In the place where giants envisioned
We’d all be free one day
to create together, and play together, and plan together,
And invent together, and work together toward goals
Even if no one ever knew their names
they believed we are all born to leave a mark here
In this place. Where the river flows North
and families travel back South to find out
if they lost anything when they abandoned their roots.
To this place, they return to celebrate the flowering
branches of our shared family tree.
The music, the art, the food, the soul;
the deepest traditions of community that migrated here too.
In this place they become the engineers, the artisans,
the architects, the caregivers, the teachers, the doctors,
the civil servants they become the future and the past.
Passing through the changes that are necessary
to entice the next generation to be born,
it’s easy to see the romance of living,
in a city of dreamers.
We, the dreamers who believe everyone has a story
We believe in unconditional love for your neighbor and
your “crosstown” peers alike
We believe in the hand that will feed you – never bite it,
hold it, gently like a protector,
like the trunk of a maple holds the sap close
We believe you can’t judge a book by its cover
So read each page voraciously to discover
the unlimited possibilities of imagination
Because you can never know by looking at someone
who they are, where they come from
or where they’ll go
We believe that our feelings and voices mean something
And that your feelings and voice mean something
We believe sticks and stones may break bones
…but words can heal the broken spirit
Life is for building things, seeing things, feeling things
We believe music can express your feelings when your words can’t,
that dance can be your words when the music isn’t enough,
And we believe in the artists who create when we can’t
and display our pain and our triumphs boldly
for the world to see because
creative expression changes life as you know it
We believe life is a prize and if you don’t believe in yourself…who will?
Life is too short for regrets
Believe in second chances the change that’s gonna come
But only if you take this one and the next.
We believe in those elder trees that lead the way
from past mistakes toward future success
We believe there is no unity,
if you don’t believe in unity
But whatever we believe in collectively,
we can make happen
we can rise above statistics
and create our own reality
if we believe in OURSELVES.
Author’s note: Ms. Golden penned the poem upon an invite from then newly elected Mayor Lovely A. Warren. She recited 'A Love Poem to Rochester, NY'at the Inaugural ceremony.
Reenah L. Golden Co-Founder, Artistic Director The Avenue Blackbox Theatre 780 Joseph Avenue Rochester, NY 14621. Read more about Reenah at reenahgolden.com