Draft of an Ex-Colored Letter Sent Home From the Post-Race War Front

A soldier in Baldwin’s Country & I can’t even dance
           I say you can’t beat me     Each day I get up to face fear

I made money & fixed my credit     I escaped you dear     my shame
           Yet how to escape white space     It’s impossible

to return to your embrace     to rough-trading sweet vowels
           to brothers on corners visiting my dreams     I hear your whistles

smell collard greens on suburban wind     I love you with deception
           I’ll be back     I’ll lift as I climb     My remorse goes deep

to the whiteness in me     my bones     Forgive me     You don’t know
           the trouble I see     I can’t tell these folks the truth

They don’t understand me & they don’t try     Or try too hard
           I want my birthright     a mutual sight     my own ancient rime

In the bright trenches of the office     I open my mouth but choke
           on bottled water     Last week     I returned for your wake

but left before the Home-Going     I miss our surviving dark ones
           The familiar is trivial & profound     The strange a charge

in my blood     I clutch & shriek at these strangers I left drums for
           I sing B.B.’s mean old song


From The Glory Gets (Wesleyan University Press, 2015) by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Copyright © 2015 by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Used with the permission of the author.