When I launched the campaign to raise funds for the poet laureate of Kansas program, I was hoping we could reach a benchmark goal of $1,500 toward the $5,000 total for the program. Within a month, we surpassed that $5,000 (the extra will pay processing fees and for a van’s worth of gas to and from Western Kansas this weekend for the Begin Again tour).
What can I say? I’m astonished, moved, delighted and yet not so completely surprised because in visiting with Kansans and people who support our state beyond our borders I’ve continually seen how much we believe in the power of the arts. More specifically, we know about the power of words, and how what we read and write, alone and together, can change our lives.
I share this small poem I wrote and sent to contributors to remind myself of all the world gives us, all the time, and to thank everyone who helped.
The wind thanks you, unfurling over the worn horizon
so it can billow into night. The stars too, whether talismans
of light dying or just being born, behind the small birds
arriving or staying behind, who balance gratefully
on thin branches of the coming winter. The squirrel
in the field, the hidden fox, the mammals under and over
ground, find a way out of no way. The world is composed,
is composing itself, anew even in a narrow time: flashes
of red on a gray day just before the red-winged blackbird
folds back in silhouette. Whatever act of kindness flies
lands in the heart of a moment, a seasonal marker
to illuminate why we live, a song of gratitude.