Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Sarah Browning: Petworth, Early Evening

A man is stabbing women in my neighborhood.

Most poor people in my city are Black


and because of the warnings of 400 years

I assume the man stabbing women


is Black. Walking home, I pass

a young Black man on the sidewalk.


When I first spotted him I did not

cross the street, though I thought to.


As we pass he reaches into his pocket

and I feel fear, how white I am.


From his pocket he pulls

a phone. Calls his girlfriend or grandma


or buddy up the street, his job, his pastor,

his boyfriend, his AA sponsor. I don’t want


to be afraid of my neighbors, walking home

from the Metro in the clear light of evening.


I want to tear history from my throat.


My son is in his room texting his friends.

It is June in the 21st century.


copyright 2015 Sarah Browning


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