jasper texas 1998

for j. byrd

i am a man's head hunched in the road.
i was chosen to speak by the members
of my body. the arm as it pulled away
pointed toward me, the hand opened once
and was gone.

why and why and why
should i call a white man brother?
who is the human in this place,
the thing that is dragged or the dragger?
what does my daughter say?

the sun is a blister overhead.
if i were alive i could not bear it.
the townsfolk sing we shall overcome
while hope bleeds slowly from my mouth
into the dirt that covers us all.
i am done with this dust. i am done.

Lucille Clifton, "jasper texas 1998" from Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000. Copyright © 2000 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.
Source: Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000 (BOA Editions Ltd., 2000)
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