This Side Up

A few things I’ve learned from Henry Brown.
First, he was a Virginia slave—
Henry Brown arrived in Philadelphia March 30, 1849 as
a free man
Second, he got a nick name—
Henry Box Brown shipped himself in a wooden crate
that was 3 feet long by 2 feet wide and displayed the
words “dry goods” and “this side up”
Third, this side up is the best example of foreshadowing
I’ve ever learned about
Fourth, when Box Brown rose out of his crate that he
had just spent 30 hours
inside of...
he called
that moment
a resurrection.
So I ask—
Let your truth seep
What is within you that should rise
If you feel froggy – you leap
When was the last time
You truly felt Phoenix—
Because I can see—
That you’re fire—you’re fly
(At the same dang time)
I wonder
What are the limitations of your hunger
The trench of your thirst
Not for water—not for food
But for your future
I have a query of questions
For your internal tribe
Marching has become partial payment
The stakes of Freedom take a Kobe investment
Sometimes we’re fork and knife ready with no
plates – no mats – no table
Our people find moments of perseverance
When we’re being gambled
In between
Distraction and Destiny
Destruction and Divinity
Seventh thing I’ve learned:
Perfection is overrated
And it’s not worth more than the
Complete path.
Other than skin color
Henry Box Brown mirrors Dr. King
Sometimes you’re too busy thinking outside the
box when God is telling you
to go in
Dream packages are shipped with His stamp of
So square up dreamers
We’re already inside the ring
And it’s up to us to
Be boxed in
Or be ready to Box
Because as you know
As foreshadow-boxing goes
It’s always This Side Up

Copyright © 2022 by Emanuelee Bean. This poem originally appeared in Houston Arts JournalUsed with permission of the author.