the photograph: a lynching

is it the cut glass
of their eyes
looking up toward
the new gnarled branch
of the black man
hanging from a tree?

is it the white milk pleated
collar of the woman
smiling toward the camera,
her fingers loose around
a christian cross drooping
against her breast?

is it all of us
captured by history into an
accurate album? will we be
required to view it together
under a gathering sky?


From BLESSING THE BOATS: NEW & SELECTED POEMS 1988-2000 (BOA Editions, 2000)


Poems by Lucille Clifton

moonchild

the photograph:   a lynching

the times