My Authors Guild student writing club is working through a poetry series, each month writing poems centered around a central theme. These themes are sourced from a list of core values of the pioneers of our city.
November’s theme was “Optimism.” No, I’m not kidding.
What does one do with a theme like that in a time like this? That was the question many of my students raised. “We don’t feel optimistic,” they said. I can’t blame them. And yet, optimism remains a core value, something necessary and altruistic. The bright light in the sky that hurts to look at, unreachably far away, yet warming. Illuminating. Exposing.
In the end, my students wrote of hope. Of individuals overcoming fear and doubt and hate and uncertainty. “We don’t feel optimistic.” And yet they wrote. They found the courage to seek the light around them, however small.
This poem is for them.
How to Change the World
Kelli Fitzpatrick 2016
It is not the winning that makes the day bright
that sends heat into your chest
and hope rising like waves of sun on pavement
It is not the hard scraping of rock in your palm
while mounting the summit
not the cool thin air in your lungs at the top
not the flicker of joy that rides spotlit laughter
It is the stubbornness of life to live through dimness
the soul under pressure that says in a voice small as fear and calm as stone
I will go on
Photo credit: I took this photo of one of my family’s wheat fields a few years ago. There are few vistas I find more optimistic.