The Charleston Mayoral Inauguration Poem – “Reimagining History”
January 11, 2016
It’s a beautiful time to be in Charleston. As we transition into a new year, we celebrate a new mayor, John Tecklenburg.
John and his wife, Sandy, reached out to Marjory Wentworth and I last year after we performed a free benefit concert for the families of the Emanuel AME victims. At that event, the Tecklenburgs asked us to write a poem if John wins his bid to become our mayor.
Well, fast forward a few months, and here we are. Marjory and I crafted the poem, and will be reading it on the steps of Charleston City Hall at noon today.
I’m so honored to be a part of Charleston’s history. This city has become my sanctuary. It’s where I got married. It’s my home.
If you missed the reading and its broadcast, you can see it below:
(written with Marjory Wentworth, for the 2016 Charleston Mayoral Inauguration)
Though Charleston is a shrine to the past,
where every alleyway and weather-worn road
tells the story of a city resurrected;
time is never standing still.
Running beneath the surface
are fault lines of our own making,
reshaping memory brick by brick.
Hours crumble in the soil of Hampton Park,
where horses ran laps for sport,
and Union soldiers were laid to rest,
honored as “Martyrs of the Race Course.”
Now, a statue of Denmark Vesey stands
in this place named for a confederate general,
as flowers bloom among the ruins.
This year, we’ve done laps around despair;
and we’ve grown tired of running in circles
so we stepped off the track and began to walk.
As the earth shifted beneath our feet,
we moved forward together. Our hearts
unhinged, guide us toward a city
remade by love, into a future
that our past could never have imagined,