After Heather Quinn

After Heather Quinn

After Heather Quinn 1920 1280 Candria Slamin

A white woman decides
to write a poem
about the cities of America burning.
In her words, black grandmothers
she does not know walk barefoot
over the bodies of their children, sing
Negro spirituals with Martin Luther King.

I wonder if, in her fantasy burnt utopia,
these black grandmothers dance
and jive in the way white Hollywood directors
like to think they do.

But, in this reality,
I know these protests have no peace song.
When Nat Turner swung that fencepost
against the skull of a white mistress, no
birds chirped. The only sounds in the air
were the sounds of death, freedom, and the Holy
Ordinance from God. There was no Hallelujah.
No hand holding.

What do these white women know
of raging? of wailing and praying and dying?
What do they know of holding family tight
after Easter Sunday cookouts, just in case.
What do they know of singing
hymns and praying to Black Jesus, ‘cause
White Jesus ain’t listening?

And what do they know of my black grandmother,
who sat in her townhouse, 2 months pregnant
with her own black son, and watched
the smoke rise over DC after their white daddies
killed Martin Luther King.

Header photograph © Nick Norris.

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