A Love Poem to Rochester, NY by Reenah Oshun Golden

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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
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