You know these names as more than polished stone, more even than ink on white parchment. You know the child awash with chocolate, the lanky one whose knees no jeans could hold.
You know the face you’ve framed upon the wall, those eyes as lush as June lilies, that hair as wild as the river after spring rains.
You know the one who shouldered burdens asked of him. You know sacrifice because she gave you the word whole, in act and deed of hour upon lonesome hour. You know these,
and shall not forget the way you learned by heart what it means to birth and to give away. Mothers know how mothers greet sun’s yellow umbrella
unfolding from Kankakee to Cairo, Watseka to Buffalo Grove to Rock Island – arcing from there to Tokyo and Seoul, Berlin to London, Kabul to Baghdad.
You know why sunrise portends sunset, realm of the asked and the given. Your nation’s born of more than stone, more than ink on white parchment.
- Kevin Stein
Illinois Poet Laureate