tidal networks of black people cross
a Walgreens and pizzeria we
follow as they walk
downtown area, early computers
Welcome to Chicago.
It could be New York, Detroit, Cleveland—
in each, sections where only black people
live like this. Sapphire, or
the many women who represent her,
changes into a suit in an alleyway
in a blond wig hides from sight
from TV and radio
the black male, close up,
melted down, he is brushing his hair.
there are things that are facts because nothing
makes sense otherwise a part of you
will always remember the transgression, inevitable
buildings, bold movements
at a table as man asks, is it safe?
“Have you ever received a call on your wrist?” She gets dressed
in bathroom—since Sapphire came to London, she learned
to pass for white. The first Negro
of high-school age to enter a school after it was integrated, many whites
shouting epithets she refuses to say
anything to the reporter (14:00) title:
open spaces—black woman
as white man says what’s important
is for the space to feel closed
Material in this poem is sourced from Sapphire and the Slave Girl.