Thursday, July 7, 2016


At the Corner of Shafer and Grace

Standing at the corner
of Shafer
and Grace
black and white
men and women
they wouldn't like
me saying
boys and girls,
but they're so

Imagining myself walking
in their shoes
walking in their shoes today
which follows yesterday
the shooting yesterday
and the shooting the day before
of young black men
by police officers
which happened in other cities
that were not this city
to other young men
who were not these
young men.

But how must it be
to see the world
through their eyes today?
Trying not to be afraid.
Trying not to look frightening.
Scenarios playing out
in your head
where everything spins
out of control
in an instant
where you have no
can you feel
your heart pounding
in your chest?
can you feel
the fear closing your throat?
can you feel
the anger?
I haven't done anything
I haven't done anything
I haven't done anything

As I write this poem
on this Richmond sidewalk
sweltering heat
from the cement
sun beating down
a young black man
comes up to me
with his friend
and he's just bought
a cell phone
and it doesn't have any pictures
on it
and he doesn't
know how to use it
but he figures it out
and asks
if he can take our picture.
I say yes
and he puts his arm around me.
Brandon.  His name is
Brandon.  My name is
Ellen, I say, as his friend
Brad clicks the picture.

He shows me the picture
of the two of us
Then we part
taking something
of each other with us.
I am in his picture.
He is in my poem.

Be safe
I want to say
but don't.
Should have?
I don't know.
He goes.
Be safe, Brandon.
Be safe.
I don't know what to say.

~E. M. Lewis  //  07 July 2016 // Richmond, VA

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