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Why Barack Is 'Ours'


All last week, we brought you commentaries that offered different perspectives on tomorrow's inauguration. Today, we decided to do it in verse. We've called back our favorite slam poet, Gayle Danley, to share a few words. We're calling it our own inaugural poem.

Ms. GAYLE DANLEY (Slam Poet): My Aunt Ruth isn't doing very well. She's 94, and the light that used to flicker behind her eyes is slipping. I hope she lives long enough to see this. Thousands upon millions on top of multitudes of us, America, women and daddies and babies wrapped well against the district's cold. And the children - they had the vision first, carried it home to us, believed in what was possible more than what was probable.

When I was four, Aunt Ruth and I stood staring at ourselves in her dresser mirror. The last hope of daylight spread over her yellow cheekbones. I had turned her into a big Barbie, put barrettes and yarn in her black satin hair. Aunt Ruth, are you white? Slipped irresistibly from my innocents lips. Her mouth didn't answer. Her eyes did, written on them the harsh decades she had served Army men lunch at Fort McPherson, pinching nickels to send me north to school. She reveled in her race and never once seemed to wish to be anything else.

She won't be there tomorrow. The journey's way too long. The air is way too frigid. She won't see this beautiful brown man become what she always knew was possible, the reason she sacrificed a big life to feed hungry men and hope for a small retirement check. But we'll be there. You'll be there, right? He'll be there, carrying all our dreams in his hands, pride in his eyes. I hope he waves at the children and the old ones, like my Aunt Ruth, whose faith and dreams made this moment ours.

MARTIN: That was slam poet Gayle Danley. To hear the previous commentaries about the inauguration of Barack Obama, please visit our Web site at Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.