We run free (For Ahmaud)
We run free inside ourselves
Where the tread is sure and terrain is familiar
In the rarest air our hopes can manage
Vaulting dreams and thoughts of plans
That may never be, till we run free.
We run free in our minds’ eyes
Laced up kicks, barefoot, over glass or grass
We run to field from plantation
To shore, to railroad, from tee shirt to tie
We never arrive uncompromised.
We run free like dark water
Over the edge of determined existence
Muddied, troubled, where wade our children
Bloodied, doubled over with exhaustion
But at least not folded face to dust.
We run free like night catch day
Sun setting on our heels, stars filling our eyes
Till every last drop of energy is spent
And never stop running lest we lose sight
We our own finish line, we a moving target.
‘Ta-mer-a! Get it…?’
She points to one shadowy corner
Of the pockmarked ceiling.
‘Like “camera”—with a “T”.’
For the first time I notice it
Perched there, all-seeing eye
Staring boldly black at us,
Curved chin cocked,
Sizing up the weight of our ways
And measure of our motives,
Looking out for any sudden moves
Beyond the borders of intolerance.
We are the aliens, they say,
But this feels like an invasion—
Privacy more dear
When converted to US prices—
Hovering domes, like spaceships
In a galaxy of stripes and stars,
Fit into the realm of ‘This many!’
On my grubby fingers.
Counting cameras takes much less time
Than waiting on due process.
I keep close to secure her
In this unfamiliar territory,
The din of their exchange
Undulating like boats adrift,
Washed up upon the rustle of
Bright white paper and stiff red tape.
For the record (and the recording),
He’s still using the wrong pronunciation.
Mama, who’s given up everything
Holds on to one last shred of dignity.
Eyeball to glass, top lip curved
Like a flag of defiance waving,
She points one finger upward.
‘I said, it’s pronounced “Tamera”!’
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