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Who Shall Inherit the Earth

For our third weekly poem in honor of the 25th National Poetry Month, GLIDE Memorial Church has for you a piece that speaks directly of those who struggle through poverty, homelessness and injustice. That speaks directly of the very community, in our church’s Tenderloin home and throughout our city, that GLIDE seeks to give service to.

So we offer “Who Shall Inherit the Earth” by Devorah Major — the California born, San Francisco raised, third San Francisco Poet Laureate granddaughter of immigrants, documented and undocumented, who have long breathed wonder and life into our city — for your meditation today.

We hope that this wonderful poem speaks to you as it does to all of us at GLIDE, and that you will share its compassion and beauty with your loved ones today.

“Who Shall Inherit the Earth”
Devorah Major

in amharic
i once heard
the correct translation
was not the meek
broken
crushed
humiliated
low
who would inherit the earth
but the gentle

and we are

inheriting
these streets
even as we sleep on them
and are swept up only to return

sharp the edges of so many of our lives
fierce with hunger and pain

so much disillusionment
and so very few triumphs

even as the rulers
squeeze tighter
cutting short our breath
hobbling our steps

harnessed together we will
inherit the earth
such as it is

sad with violence and pestilence
the air clotted and gray
islands covered with an
ever rising sea turning
turning

still it is becoming ours

even as they wage
their gruesome wars

killing and selling
buying and exporting death

advertising the price for each kill
factored into the decision
to research develop manufacture
and buy the newest weapon
to kill more quickly
more anonymously

even in the face of this hegemony of arms
every side buys from every side
every side sells to every side

even the pawns choose their weapons
aim and fire and die

still we gentle are joining
together more and more tightly
inheriting the earth
from these others who want
only to have
to hold
to own
to control
as if they were hurricane and sun
arrogant in their perceived power

not understanding that
all of it will explode
or else disintegrate

and they will be left with
misshapen impotent stories
of the times that use to be

while we will remain
remembering our many
losses along the way

still wounded and reeling
we gentle will
inherit the earth

and pull out our seed stock
and begin to plant anew

We hope you enjoyed our weekly poem by Devorah Major. Please consider sharing its compassion and beauty with your community today.

“Who Shall Inherit the Earth” from A Braccia Aperte / With Arms Open (Multimedia Edizione, Baronissi, Italy). Copyright © 2019 by Devorah Major.

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