It's the ragged source of memory,
a tarpaper-shingled bungalow
whose floors tilt toward the porch,
whose back yard ends abruptly
I have no answer to the blank inequity
of a four-year-old dying of cancer.
I saw her on TV and wept
with my mouth full of meatloaf.
The Lutherans sit stolidly in rows;
only their children feel the holy ghost
that makes them jerk and bobble and almost
destroys the pious atmosphere for those
Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch,
are bickering. The eldest has come home
with new truths she can hardly wait to teach.
Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt,
for Daniel "Chappie" James, General USAF
and for the 332d Fighter Group
Being black in America
was the Original Catch,
As I lifted the kettle from the hob,
I heard the sound of drums from far away.
I paused a moment. Then that hot water
got heavy. But I listened while I worked: