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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
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.