In the Time of Plague by N. Scott Momaday
We keep indoors.
When we dare to venture out
We are cautious. Our neighbors
Smile, but in their eyes there is
Reserve and suspicion.
They keep their distance,
As we do ours, in mute accord.
Much of our fear is unspoken,
For there is at last the weight of custom,
The tender of rote consolation.
We endure thoughts of demise
And measure the distance of death.
Death too wears a mask.
But consider, there may well be good
In our misfortune if we can find it. It is
Hidden in the darkness of our fear.
But discover it and see that it is hope
And more; it is the gift of opportunity.
We have the rare chance to prevail,
To pose a resolution for world renewal.
We can be better than we have ever been.
We can improve the human condition.
We can imagine, then strive to realize,
Our potential for goodness and morality.
We can overcome pestilence, war and poverty.
We can preserve our sacred purpose. We can
Determine who we are in our essential nature
And who we can be. We are committed to this end
For our own sake and for the sake of those
Who will come after us. There is a better future,
And we can secure it. Let us take up the task, and
Let us be worthy of our best destiny.
N. SCOTT MOMADAY
Santa Fe, N.M.
The writer is a novelist as well as a poet and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1969 for “House Made of Dawn.”