for bell hooks
A warning one white friend hisses
To the one standing nearest to me
At an Upper West Side newsstand.
As if my ears
Could not cradle human speech.
This is the birth of a regret:
My surprise of the woman on my right
As I reach to buy a paper.
Where? becomes an Oh.
How they grin,
I am a close call, how they grin,
Pickpocket my ease,
Grin, then push off down the street.
Now I have the rest of Saturday.
Who will touch my hand,
Who will take my quarters,
These clots of syntax
Growing cold in the blush of my palm?
Copyright © 2008 by Cornelius Eady. From Hardheaded Weather (Putnam, 2008). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.