ON MEETING MRS. SEPTIMA POINSETTE CLARK
DECEMBER 9, 1964
I sit down quitely in the chair,
The older woman smiles and light
Reflects off frame glasses and gold rose earrings, the voice
Is like, is like the whisper of tires on a faroff nighttime
or maybe that of Negro woman of sixty-six
Which it is.
She inhales to speak, I raise
My fine young journalistic pen, prepared to summarize
Her store into ink traces,
To finish my entry blank in the Biographical Sweekstakes
"Tell us, in 150 words or less,
The substance of her life;" I am, of course,
The smile fades back into equilibrium, and she says calmly:
"My father was a slave."
I see, yes the pen moves to the paper:
Ahh, ha ha ha,
No, something isn't quite right,
She didn't even blink.
Hands quescent in her lap
Breathing is regular, even unnoticed
You see, my father was a normal, middle-class guy like everybody
You understand that, don't you Mrs.
My Father was
Yes, Yes, I know, but surely you can understand the difference
was only superficial, just an accident of history that yours
happened to be
a slave (why in hell won't she blink)
Well it was his own damn fault, wasn't it after all he
known the Truth, because
My Father was
The Good Book, you know, says that Ye (that's old-time for
you-all, get it)
Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you
Say that's kind of a clever twist there Mrs.
Ahh, ha ha ha . . .