Marilyn Nelson

(1946 / Cleveland / United States)

Minor Miracle - Poem by Marilyn Nelson

Which reminds me of another knock-on-wood
memory. I was cycling with a male friend,
through a small midwestern town. We came to a 4-way
stop and stopped, chatting. As we started again,
a rusty old pick-up truck, ignoring the stop sign,
hurricaned past scant inches from our front wheels.
My partner called, "Hey, that was a 4-way stop!"
The truck driver, stringy blond hair a long fringe
under his brand-name beer cap, looked back and yelled,
"You fucking niggers!"
And sped off.
My friend and I looked at each other and shook our heads.
We remounted our bikes and headed out of town.
We were pedaling through a clear blue afternoon
between two fields of almost-ripened wheat
bordered by cornflowers and Queen Anne's lace
when we heard an unmuffled motor, a honk-honking.
We stopped, closed ranks, made fists.
It was the same truck. It pulled over.
A tall, very much in shape young white guy slid out:
greasy jeans, homemade finger tattoos, probably
a Marine Corps boot-camp footlockerful
of martial arts techniques.

"What did you say back there!" he shouted.
My friend said, "I said it was a 4-way stop.
You went through it."
"And what did I say?" the white guy asked.
"You said: 'You fucking niggers.'"
The afternoon froze.

"Well," said the white guy,
shoving his hands into his pockets
and pushing dirt around with the pointed toe of his boot,
"I just want to say I'm sorry."
He climbed back into his truck
and drove away.

Comments about Minor Miracle by Marilyn Nelson

  • Rebecca Navarre (8/5/2017 10:51:00 PM)

    A Very Powerfully Moving Poem! ! ! ! ! The Ignorance Of
    That Man At First Shown, Then The Kindness, And Work
    Of God...Shown In Him...Praise Be To God! ! ! ! For Making
    Him Think Twice! ! ! ! ! And Be Kinder In Life! ! ! ! ! Thank You
    For Sharing This! ! ! ! !
    (Report) Reply

    Rebecca Navarre (8/5/2017 10:55:00 PM)

    Praise Be To God You And Your Friend
    Were Alright! ! ! ! !

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
Read all 2 comments »

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: friend, sorry, memory, hair

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

[Report Error]