The America I Know Could Use a Good Cry

I met America at a neighborhood bar.

He offered me a shot of rum and I reminded him
that Captain Morgan was a slave owner,
so the bartender awkwardly slipped another
liquid lie down my throat. I ordered another drink
and was channeled by dark spirits. The courage of
black ghosts who haunt American dreams.

I told him I loved him and I wanted him to sleep well.
“But I know I’ve been in your nightmares,”
I said. “I want to be your friend, but only if it’s a deep
relationship. Only if you show me that you are not scared
of your baggage. Bring your whole history to the table.”

America cracked open another beer as a tear
ran down his face. He said,

“I was born in a house not my own, and my fathers demanded
that their portraits hang on every wall. White paint covers each
brown brick and our backyard is a museum of unmarked graves.”

“Despite this, a garden grows,” I said. “And every home
can be torn down and rebuilt again.”

“But I’ve been told I shouldn’t completely let you in,” he said.
“Some people in my family stand in the doorway,
blocking the entrance.”

He left before I could tell him that my people have a history
of finding ways inside broken spaces and making them whole again.

From The Birth of All Things (Free Verse Press, 2020) by Marcus Amaker. Copyright © 2020 by Marcus Amaker. Used with the permission of the author.