Originally published in The Speed of Darkness (1968)

You come from poets, kings, bankrupts, preachers,
attempted bankrupts, builders of cities, salesmen,
the great rabbis, the kings of Ireland, failed drygoods
storekeepers, beautiful women of the songs,
great horsemen, tyrannical fathers at the shore of ocean,
the western mothers looking west beyond from
their windows,
the families escaping over the sea hurriedly and by
the roundtowers of the Celtic violet sunset,
the diseased, the radiant, fliers, men thrown out of
town, the man bribed by his cousins to stay out of
town, teachers, the cantor on Friday evening, the
lurid newspapers,
strong women gracefully holding relationship, the
Jewish girl going to parochial school, the boys
racing their iceboats on the Lakes,
the woman still before the diamond in the velvet
window, saying “Wonder of nature.”
Like all men,
you come from singers, the ghettoes, the famines, wars
and refusal of wars, men who built villages
that grew to our solar cities, students, revolutionists, the
pouring of buildings, the market newspapers,
a poor tailor in a darkening room,
a wilderness man, the hero of mines, the astronomer, a
white-faced woman hour on hour teaching piano
and her crippled wrist,
like all men,
you have not seen your father’s face
but he is known to you forever in song, the coast of the
skies, in dream, wherever you find man playing
his part as father, father among our light, among
our darkness,
and in your self made whole, whole with yourself and
whole with others,
the stars your ancestors.


(c) Muriel Rukeyser