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Only twenty six
at least in the Western World
simple tools for alchemy

In forms for public and material
acquisitions, deeds, and wills
a means of earning a degree

Depending on order and author
render resonance to unite
or bitter nightmare to divide

For declaring bold dreams
and making the choice
to go to the moon and do
the other hard things, too

Twenty six letters
in good hands with true hearts
deliver sonnets, story
epic tales, notable history
Peter Rabbit
and Horton Hears a Who

Twenty six letters
crisscross lives,
public, private, that of souls
taking for granted
the power they hold
assembled on paper
bring peace to a nation,
galvanize the seemingly

And just as remarkable
somewhere sent
from the other side of the world
a thoughtfully written note
erases many miles
and some of the ache
as if by spell cast
you are here, now as being
we are
side by side


This poem was inspired after hearing the podcast, On Being with Krista Tippett in conversation (Imagination and Fortitude) with Jason Reynolds, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature of the Library of Congress. Reynolds has the number 26 tattooed on his right hand. Seeing this every day reminds him of the responsibility he holds in taking the twenty six letters of the alphabet and transforming them into the written word.

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