Subtitle: What today’s racial unrest unsettles and surfaces within.
Born in 1862, my great-grandfather,
my mother’s grandfather,
my grandmother’s father,
was the offspring of a white father,
my great-great grandfather,
and a black mother;
her birth names long-lost,
long-ago away washed by Atlantic’s waves
from the sands of western shores of Afric’s land.
my great-grandfather’s daughter,
my mother’s mother,
could have passed for white;
yet choosing not,
she, in her generation, marched for civil rights.
My mother, fair, too, oft was mistaken for white.
My father –
a dark-skinned man of black and Latin heritage mixed
whom America taught to hate his skin, an inerasable blight
inciting curses, and
closing doors in his approaching face –
would marry a black woman, my mother,
in part, precisely, because she looked white
(oft, self-loathing, he protesting, “Never darken the race!”)
all of my life,
in my body,
in my blood,
bear history’s bitterest memory,
made new every day,
of the cruelest, doubly-dehumanizing union,
this yet unresolved violent interplay
of slavers and their people-property.
I see that war in my face,
daily etched deeper into my brow
and daily traced in animus-eruptions rising from my bowels.
And there is no peace.
© 2020 PRA