On Tuesday, as Santa Barbara staggered from the death and devastation of yet another natural disaster, the city’s seventh poet laureate graced City Hall, reading a new work to commemorate inaugural ceremonies for our recently elected mayor and council.
“I wrote this poem at Christmas, when we were reeling from the fire,” Poet Laureate Enid Osborn told Newsmakers a few hours later. “I could not foresee the horrors of yesterday. Such a sad day.”
Here is Enid’s poem, “Pay Good Fortune Forward.”
PAY GOOD FORTUNE FORWARD
A poem read for Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo and City Council.
January 9, 2017
The rising sun lights the newly washed windows
of our vibrant city. We have survived the long nights
and seen the face and backside of a monster.
Some of us look out our windows at a blackened world,
twigs where there once were trees. The smell of fire
lines our noses. It won’t go away.
Some look out at gardens, intact. Displaced deer
stand in our yards and nibble the low-hanging boughs.
We water the ash today. In Spring: flowers.
On the street, citizens are tender, greeting friend
and stranger alike with hearty good wishes—over-glad,
giddy with relief—quickly followed by tales of Thomas.
Let the caring and generosity brought by great distress
continue in good times!
United by ordeal, hopeful—no, certain—of a better
year to come, let us move forward, hand in hand,
with love for each other and our City.
And you, our fresh Mayor and Council, take your places
at the table of heroes as, motion by motion,
the City’s confidence is rebuilt.
Under the agenda of emergency,
let there be emergence of the new!
Let us not lose sight of inspired plans
or let good ideas be waylaid by urgent need,
for now, more than ever, we need joy!
We need fairs and fairness, arts, parks, toys,
shelter for the roofless, betterment of schools.
As we clean up, let us polish.
As we rebuild, let us improve.
As we shelter, let us nurture.
As we ordain, let us be just
to the “haves” and the least of us who,
wildfire at the window, huddled alike
at the mercy of a change of wind, a good neighbor,
a friend, and our heroes with axes,
and, while planning the future, let us glance behind,
then find a way to pay our good fortune forward.
Santa Barbara Poet Laureate 2017-2019
Image: Enid Osborn (Steve Braff).