Black Boy, Run

Since babes
our feet carried us.
Awkwardly at first,
but agility is our birthright.

Strong feet, smooth as blades,
disappeared in the tall grass
behind Nana’s house–
decorated by laughter and cicadas.

And as we emerged, still babes
our feet–etched by Earth and
readied by ancestral ligaments–
became our pride.

Awed onlookers, chanting:
‘That boy can run that ball!’
‘Ain’t nobody can catch that boy!’
‘Look at him, go!’
‘Yes, run black boy, run!’

And oh we ran.
And you ran.
And I ran.
With the fleetest of feet
carrying three-fifths of a man
and an eighth of an ounce
because there is no sanctum
for us out here.

No way. No means.
No hopes. No dreams.
That’s what they’ll have you believe.
So, we trust these feet
because they have not betrayed us yet.

The system and the sergeant
share the same odor.
So, we keep our feet pressed to the pavement.
Tense. Ready.
Preservation rests in the balms of our feet.

‘Don’t let them touch me!’
‘Don’t let them touch me!’
Martyrs make cruel reminders,
so I will trust these feet,

to carry me…

to damnation
or to death.

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