Obligations of the Poet

Never consider yourself
a privileged intellectual, a book-filled head repeating
the same conversation,
a withered doleful thinker.

You were born to thresh stars
and discover in the trees the laughter of the crowd,
you were born brandishing the future,
seeing through eyes, hands, feet, breast, mouth,
foreteller of things to come
augur of days the sun
is unaware it will rise on,
you were conceived on moonlit nights
when wolves howled and crazed fireflies raced,
your eyes were open when your head first entered the world
and your skin was softer and thinner
than that of those born with eyes closed,
you were favored by joy and sadness,
child of sea and storm,
created to seek treasures in swamps and deserts.
Your legacy was unbounded love,
confidence, unaffected simplicity,
the shadow of chilamate trees,
the trill of black mockingbirds.

Now the depths of the earth
give forth electricity to charge your song,
poems spill from sweaty faces
and eager hands holding primers and pencils;
now you have only to sing of what surrounds you,
the soft pitch
of the fervent voices
of the multitude.

- Giaconda Belli (1948-)