African drums and Public Enemy’s
“Rebel without a Pause” play when we enter.
We cannot simply hide among the corn fields,
or muffle our voices with the thick stench of manure.
We don’t have stories of harvest season,
warm fresh eggs created in our backyard,
or having to wring a chicken's neck for nourishment.
Our presence go unconcerned
and unexplained in the city. We blend in with its chaos.
Metal concrete structures cover the top of our heads.
Our voices blend with the sounds of engines, trains,
and echos carrying crashes of construction.
But in this place, like a rake over concrete,
the cringe from our existence
causes a domino effect of
stopping and staring, gawking and stopping
with an unspoken rule:
Don’t look long enough for race to be a factor.
For extra protection, wear shades of invisibility.
Eventually they will go away.
We cast shadows in white spaces
so much that we find ourselves trying
not to cause darkness so thick
that we become threats.
We have to walk in the very shadows we create
searching for home, to just be.
Even in moments of extended hand shakes
hellos, and shared stories, the welcome mat
never quite makes it to the floor.