Mayor Daniel T. Drew's inauguration, Middletown, Connecticut, November 15, 2015
In a moment like this one,be full
and there have been moments like this one,
in this place, at the great bend, beside the Quintucket.
The Great River. The Long Tidal River.
It is autumn, when Mamoosan returned
every year to pay tribute
to his ancestors in Mattabeseck
and lived in a Buttonwood Tree.
There was a moment like this one
in 1784 when Jabez Hamlin
became the first Mayor of Middletown,
and we have continued
in our small democracy within our
current global catastrophe, where empires
fight violently in war, religion, racism …
In a moment like this one
and the one just before this one
and the moment being newly created
minutely in time as we gather together,
and overlap, with differences and affinities,
we can say there are approximately
forty-eight thousand of us
who live here now in Middletown-
some love Middletown,
some are trying to get out of Middletown,
some have disagreements with
the landlord or the neighbors in Middletown,
some, too many, are in poverty, destitute,
disabled, discontinued, dying in Middletown.
I still have many heroes here in Middletown.
In a moment like this one,
and we are making this moment,
we can say we have done our best,
or have tried, or have given up.
We celebrate, or we feel demoted,
and those of us who voted,
the devoted, accept
the rewards of hard work,
winning and losing
we’ve all been there
in our winning losing
We can wonder if maybe we were wrong,
or maybe we are right. We are
wearing hoodies, suits, red or blue dresses,
dreadlocks, Goodwill blue jeans,
scrubs, tattoos, and tweeds …
We are church loving, or food loving, car loving,
struggling, or just making it;
we strive in our fields, and are feisty in our politics.
We are artists, engineers, doctors,
students, teachers, businesses, banks.
We are Cambodian, Puerto Rican, Haitian,
Irish, Tibetan, Dominican, Italian,
African American, Polish, Swedes …
We are gay, transgendered, still closeted …
We are Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu,
Buddhist, Lutheran, Baptist, Zion, pagan …
And everyone who is in this moment,
is making this moment.
Families and children in the moment.
Black lives matter in the moment.
Bread and gratitude in the moment.
Cultures clashing in the moment.
Some might ask, will it all be the same?
Will it all be the same ol’ same ol’?
Maybe we were right maybe we were wrong.
Maybe we are opposed to or are afraid
of having those conversations. But
in a moment like this one we remember the turning leaves,
this season glowed in orchard brilliant reds,
designs of yellow, berry, wine against bursting
oranges, ochre, brown, dangling neon scarlet
leaves caught in the light of the late day’s sun.
I must have taken fifty-seven pictures of the red
Japanese maple as it glowed in the dusk after twilight.
We all watched as the leaves
gradually loosened into the breeze
catching our breath and shortening our speech,
miraculously, through an incarnate spell of autumn leaf devotion
running wild beyond our ability to praise it
interrupting our agendas, and reminding us
how quickly things change.
In a moment like this one
we can see ourselves
and others in the light and shadow,
in our curious particle perception,
through our lives of grief and wonder,
when we coalesce into a covenant of our cognition.
And I marvel how through all our differences
we still sit almost on top of each other,
blankets, children, fried dough, dogs
on the Town Hall lawn along DeKoven
to watch the fireworks over the river.
We are here for some reason,
and now I in my way,
and you in yours are
like the colors of the river, mingling currents
knowing and learning the ways we navigate
seeking place, or seeking a voice
or recognition, we seek awareness
and sometimes find it,
in our disparate ways, grateful
to meet an old friend on the sidewalk,
sometimes able to grasp
the city’s rare magnificence,
able to recognize in ourselves
and in each other our wholeness
in both our weakness and our strength.