The Reach of Justice

79. lynching. Circa 1920, location unknown.

The arc of the moral universe
is an arm span flailing
in the Georgia heat and
nightfall knows not
what to do with us.
Unable to contain our own bodies,
we bind the limbs of another.
We watch for a withering stillness,
yet silence never comes.
Amidst pretense we close our eyes
but cannot shield our ears from
the chorus, that tripping over itself,
rushes from his unbound mouth -
notes that harmonize in the key of terror:
a refrain that ricochets from oak to pine -
sacred to profane –
and the rhythm of the beat of pecans as they drop
allow my own transcendence to become
I’ll Fly Away
the moment the match strikes.
Oh Glory, I pray let me fly.
Yonder, beyond the
syncopated righteousness
of ceremonious endings -
into a horizon
where virtuoso hearts are not
consumed by virtuous tongues.
I pray my ascent precedes
the grand finale; I pray I go unnoticed
and empty-handed.
History will forget us
with each rising sun.
Tomorrow, I will wash my face
and shudder in the
reflection of what I’ve
been asked to become;
because in becoming
I’ve forgotten how to sustain
great heights on quivering legs
and with arms flailing.

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