A Northern Viewpoint Poem by Romella Kitchens

Romella Kitchens

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

A Northern Viewpoint



A Northern Viewpoint

I hated the South when a child and we traveled down there.
It was hot, humid, the people did not know where your business began
and their business ended.
They had open anger and tension about them.
Everything was violent. threatening Confederate Flags and people
who thought everything you had should belong to them because of their race.

I liked the palm trees though, the tropical fruits,
the Atlantic Ocean's deeper blue.
But, a place is so much more than its natural or its exterior.

At 12 years of age, a White pharmacy owner almost
murdered me with a gun he kept under his front counter for protection.
This happened in Tampa, Florida.
He claimed I had stolen the camera my father had gifted me, but
I had not.
His breath reeked of alcohol and racism.
I had to calm him down to be able to leave the store with my life.
A few days later, his store went up in an explosive blast
during the Floridian Civil Rights protests...

Maybe he made someone more aggressive angry.
Maybe he got even more drunken and said something
too brutal for anyone to just walk away from.
The air outside and a return to life instead of near
death felt so good after he understood, called me a racial
slur, sold me the film for my camera and told me I could go.
I was only 12 years old.
I kept wondering why living had been my biggest
concern in the store instead of being
mannerly, receiving the correct change.

I wish I could say that I liked the South...
And, that the South with its beautiful trees and glorious
skies liked me back.

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Romella Kitchens

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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