29 April, 1992

The brothers got mad
they had a right to
having seen years of struggle
nullified in twenty-three minutes
of brutality
and nineteen minutes
of deliberation

Suddenly Rosa Parks' sacrifice
was rendered inconsequential
for segregation was self-imposed
and they stood together
a tight mob, monochrome
exhaling an air of violence
poised, guarded
and whereas before
they would beckon me to join them
to laugh and stomp
today there would be no revelry

And when I approached
they shifted uneasily in their places
averting their eyes from the Devil's gaze
as Perseus from Medusa
and only after I lingered on
at the edge of that seething mass
did the one best known to me
step forward and say
"we cannot speak to you today"
and although I had known I was white
every day of my life
I had never before then realized
what that looked like
through the eyes of someone who wasn't