A man today
asked me- “Where
are you going?” As if my
entire life could be captured,
my direction summoned, my
emancipatory urge denied. So
I responded: “Nowhere. Or
Everywhere. I haven’t yet
decided.” He looked at me
strangely, the corners of
his mouth curved in
disapproval. His jaw,
stern and unflinching,
was mounted on two very firm shoulders, straight and
broad. “I simply meant what stop you were getting off on.”
My chest heaved in agony, my heart swelling with embarrassment.
“Apologies, I had thought you were a slave-catcher, seeking to return
me to the plantation.” I had said too much. and now the truth was out-
I was free, loosed from my destiny, unbound by the whips of men across
my back. But he didn’t make a move, just stood with his arms across his
chest, tapping in rhythm to the clacking of the train across its track. It
was the heartbeat of the nation, the pulse of an entire people. The denied
dreams and broken backs of countless men, Chinese, Irish, German, and
Black. If we had all joined arms and celebrated in unison, perhaps our fate
could have been shared-- instead, we remain a profile in despair, the shattered
bust of Caesar’s slaves. But I will liberate the forms of poets and princes.