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 don't lower your eyes

or stare straight ahead to where

you think you ought to be going

don't mutter oh no

not another one

get a job      fly a kite

go bury a bone

with her old-fashioned sandals

with her leaden skirts

with her stained cheeks and whiskers and heaped up trinkets

she has risen among us in blunt reproach


she has fitted her hair under a hand-me-down cap

and spruced it up with feathers and stars

slung over one shoulder she bears

the rainbowed layers of charity and murmurs

all of you    even the least of you


don't cross to the other side of the square

don't think another item to fit on a tourist's agenda

consider her drenched gaze    her shining brow

she who has brought mercy back into the streets

and will not retire politely to the potter's field
having assumed the thick skin of this town

its gritted exhaust its sunscorch and blear

she rests in her weathered plumage

bigboned     resolute


don't think you can ever forget her

don't even try

she's not going to budge


 no choice but to grant her space

crown her with sky

for she is one of the many

and she is each of us.

-- Rita Dove

This poem was read at the occasion of the return of the statue Freedom
to the dome of the Capitol on 23 October 1993.    

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Copyright 2001 Awesome Dolls and Collectibles
Last modified: May 20, 2001