Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural, 2009

When I was seven,
we traveled to Florida
for a vacation,
and as much as the
legendary warmth in winter
I remember my parents
instructing me
after we crossed the
Mason-Dixon line,
to be very careful
of what fountain I drank
from or what bathroom I used.
We were white but not
exempt from punishment
in the event of disobedience.
They’d string us up
beside any black
person nearby,
that’s what my father
said, and I believed him,
could feel the fear and the
penning, separate,
saw black people
lowering their eyes
and stepping aside.
It made me
ashamed,
afraid
for all of us.

Tomorrow will
be a Great Day for
me--faded beige-to-pink--
the sign of a
great sea change.
Tomorrow a black man
and his beautiful black
family come to live
in America’s White House.

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