My troubles are so damn small
in comparison to cities burning;
they are not the world’s troubles
like the anger, anguish
and outrage bursting
from the inside out
of our cities and our towns,
our neighborhoods broken,
our people destroyed.
And as much as I want
to claim them as mine
to feel a solidarity,
I know I am a pale outsider.
Sitting on a bench at the playground
next to a beautiful brown mama
and her precious, brown baby boy,
tears welled up in my eyes:
the weight of my privilege
too much to carry today.
Wanting too much to seem casual,
I glanced out at the green grass,
sun-dappled through enormous, beautiful trees,
the pink and white flowering bushes.
“Do you know their names?” I ask.
“Are those Rhododendron?
I can never be sure.”
She thought perhaps azalea.
She saw my tear-filled eyes,
and I gulped, and mused
at the beauty all around us.
I could not ask a total stranger
How to talk
about Race in America today.
I just sat on the bench with her
and adored her little son,
and breathed in and breathed out
and tried to will our world to do better.
She laughed at my boys and their antics.
We had the common ground of motherhood,
which I’d always thought could not be under-rated,
but see that I will never
have to worry over mine
in anywhere near the same way
as she will worry for hers.
I kept wanting an entry into conversation
that would give me the chance to prove
my worthiness as a non-hater,
that would give me a reason
to enumerate my encounters with hatred,
with me and my black friends on
this side, or list my affiliations,
the amazing men and women
who I have considered friends, roommates,
family. But there was no segue
from clapping, chubby baby hands
to any deeper issues. And my brushes
with color do not give me,
do not begin to give me…
I only know the outsiders anthem,
I do not carry inside me the root,
the flower, the core. The baseline
of this descent, the chorus through
the ages, through the cages,
through the caged and chained,
the families broken,
The stand up tall – no matter,
The don’t cry – does not matter,
The run, the hide.
I never knew run.
I have never known hide,
nor life or death,
no one to trust.
I talk to cops, I have flirted
my way out of tickets.
I know nothing.
I stand helpless on the outside
knowing f*ing nothing.
Knowing beautiful babies
Grow up to be target practice.
Shoot. Fire. Aim.
Photo from here