Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


You Still Dream

Here, poem meets prayer.
We are exceedingly comfortable
with posturing and self-defense
that masquerade as apology.
But what’s needed in this moment
is unmixed confession
of our nation’s sin,
deep and indefensible.
“Now I lay me down to sleep”
must make way for
something more muscular:
sack cloth and ashes,
prayer and fasting,
naked prostration.
Daniel understood
radical repentance begins
with this unvarnished profession:
You are righteous,
and we are not.
Please heal our nation.
Cleanse our stubborn hearts.
Show each of us what part to play.
Broken as Judah and Jerusalem,
we cry and come bending our will
toward the good
you dream for us still,
no matter our sin,
no matter what skin
we’re in.

Credit


Copyright © 2020 by Nikki Grimes. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 7, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“Confession is the first step towards meaningful change, but when it comes to the sin of racism, many Americans skip this all-important step and jump straight to a pious posture of prayer for the nation. I believe absolutely in the power of prayer, but not when it’s hollow. This poem is a response to that hollowness.”
Nikki Grimes

Author


Nikki Grimes

Nikki Grimes is a New York Times bestselling poet and author and recipient of the 2017 Children’s Literature Legacy Medal and the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. She is the author of Ordinary Hazards (WordSong, 2019), which received the ALA Michael Printz Honor, ALA Robert F. Sibert Honor, and the 2020 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Award for Nonfiction. She lives in Corona, California.

Date Published: 2020-08-07

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/you-still-dream