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Naming Ceremony


In our household, when we hear
the words, "Those people. . ." brought out
like a rough, knotted rope --
phrases coiled in lynching tones,

when we hear the words, "They all . . ."
spoken in the hooded, nameless way
of fire licking wood -- the burnt
smell of fear all around --

we do not stand aside
and let them pass unnoticed anymore. 
We have learned a new ceremony --
how to sweeten the air with the fragrance

of names -- the common names of those,
like salt, whose company adds savor
to our days; whose uncommon
characters add deep, rich flavors

to our lives; whose friendships, like honey
distilled from a thousand petaled hours,
sweeten our bitter edges.  When we hear
the words of those who do not know

the pleasure of this pure, clear taste,
who do not know the names of their own
sisters and brothers, we do not let
their poison slip easily into the streams

from which we drink.  We speak the names
of those we know.  So many names
billow and surge in the ocean of being,
ready to rise into one great

tidal wave of truth, to sweep
over the landscape of dry hearts,
washing away evil.  It will be
the beginning of a new blessing way,

to speak the names of those whose lives
we draw upon like breath, those cherished
ones who are the honorable ancestors
of a new race, and must never be nameless again.

- Druzelle Cederquist
World Order Magazine,
Vol.31, No.2, Winter 1999-2000

Poetry Notes for this poem at Luminous Realities blog