by Andrew McDiarmid

I guess
it’s not my place
to thank you for your words,
short bursts
of clarity and
I wasn’t one
of the ones
to heave a heavy
sigh at not being served
and fight back the daily
urges to grab them
and shake them
and scream
into their white ears
that I was
I can’t say
I know the feeling
of hearing that my friend
or an uncle or my sister
was hung from a tree
while the moon
was forced to watch
and listen to them
laugh and drive away.
I’ve never sung
a spiritual
the way you
may have
or the way
the brothers and sisters
you wrote for
may have spoken or whispered them
as they wondered
how soon and very soon
it would all be different
and how much longer
they should hope.
You were on
Lenox Avenue
that night, and you
could write The Weary Blues
because you felt them.
I can only listen.
I’m going to thank you though,
not as a Negro,
not as a man or woman
with graying hair
who can remember exactly
where I was when
Rosa Parks made my heart sing,
but as a young, white man
from Scotland,
a poet, a human,
your brother
if I may.

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