Lee Herrick

Issue #
September 27, 2015


“Some things you know all your life. They are so simple and true, they must be said without elegance.”
                                                                                                           – Philip Levine

I will say it like this: I watched my daughter bite into a peach,
and although she did not have the language for it yet,
I imagined her thinking, that taste, that perfect juice,
is heavenly. There was a certain light in Fresno that day,
like today, where we work, dream, and play—
Mayor and mothers, farmers and fathers, laborers
in blue collars and donors for the red wave,
one city of multiple truths straight down the 99
dreaming about the perfect peach, the perfect pitch,
one city in the shape of an immigrant’s beautiful accent,
one city of taco, gyro, pan dulce, and strawberries
so good, you’d swear they came straight from the hand of God,
one city, in my dream, where there are no gunshots tonight
or the next one hundred starlit nights, one simple truth
called the fig tree, the ash tree, one poet’s testimony
stripped of its elegance for the city to consider:
in which of our ninety languages should I say that I love you?
Which of our two hundred and fifty different crops would you like
to taste, to imagine its perfect juice? My truths involve dreams,
stars, hard work and good pay for the ice worker, the tractor
driver, the backyard gardener, the students and the teachers,
the nurses and the preachers. The fog on a country road—
that is the truth. Our menacing heat in July—truth.
My city is your city, a bead of sweat and the will
to work, the want for clean air, for water, for love.
This is how I dream about you, Fresno.
This is what I know to be true.

“Truths” was written for the induction ceremony for the Mayor who appointed Lee Herrick as Fresno Poet Laureate, 2015.

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