Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Check In

They call. They message.

Then the occasional tag on social media.
I am wanting to check in on you… We
are thinking of you… I am so so sorry…

Then                  there                  I go
again                  pounding my head
sifting through thick
scattering names on a dusty floor

It is morning. It is the afternoon, maybe
the middle of some God-awful hour. I was

calm. I was hunkered low, shades drawn
maybe sipping a tea

                                                    No one
should see me    pacing kitchen

to porch

                                                 to bedroom

grabbing at lint or         shaking my wrist
                    in the mirror

                                                     Don’t call
don’t remind me there are soldiers

tramping on my lawn with gas
                                        and pepper spray.
I’ve just laid the sheets tight in my bed.
I’ve just trimmed the plants.
                                              And you are so white
and fragile with your checking. You are so late
so late so late.


Copyright © 2020 by Nandi Comer. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 4, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote ‘The Check In’ as a response to a strange phenomenon I was noticing during the pandemic. After the murder of George Floyd and the uprisings that followed, I and other Black friends began receiving calls, texts, and emails from white people that weren’t necessarily close friends. Their attempts to connect with me really felt as if they were seeking an explanation or comfort for their own anxieties. Isn’t it always the case that Black people end up caring for white fragility? For me these messages felt like another kind of violence to endure. They made me anxious. I could not answer them, so I wrote this reply.”
Nandi Comer


Nandi Comer

Nandi Comer is the author of Tapping Out (Northwestern University Press, 2020), and the chapbook American Family: A Syndrome (Finishing Line Press, 2018).

Date Published: 2020-09-04

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