Enough Subway America | Lorraine Jeffery

Enough

Can we compensate?

               Settle accounts 
                             with the Black man
                             living in the ghetto?
               Recoup 
                             the self-worth of the Muslim
                             woman who was spit at?
               Atone 
                             for the slights in the communities
                             who banished the Irish?
               Indemnify 
                             the Navaho for his beaten
                             and murdered grandfather?
               Make amends
                             to women who were denied
                             opportunities to be heard?

Probably not,
but we can support justice.

               Fairness
                             in our hiring practices.
               Due Process
                             in our renting policies.
               Equity
                             in our laws.
               Impartiality
                             in our judgements.

Still, it’s not enough.

               Eyes 
                             have to see.

               Hearts 
                             have to care. 

               Arms 
                             have to open.

On the Subway

Do you see me,
sitting next to you?
You push up your glasses,
and look past me,
seeking a mirror to talk to.

Your voice is soft,
kind perhaps,
as you smile and nod
discuss children and
slow transportation.

Being brown, 
I don’t reflect you,
but she isn’t really a
copy either. 
She’s taller, 
like me
and she’s younger—
unlike you and me.  

I speak English,
was born in California,
raised in Illinois,
have two children,
probably work in a building
near yours. Is there
nothing you can say to me?

I reflect sameness—
but not enough?
Maybe, I should speak, 
but would you hear
if 
you don’t see?

Nathan Dumlao
via Unsplash

America 1790

We hold these truths,
          Do we?
To be self-evident
          Not through much of history.
That all men
          Define men.
          No women though, right?
Are created equal,
          Whoa! Not Blacks—
          three-fifths of a person
          no property ownership
          no votes
          no signed contracts?
          Oh yeah! 
          Property—
          not people.

©2022 Lorraine Jeffery
All rights reserved



Lorraine Jeffery…

…has won prizes in state and national contests and published over a hundred poems in journals including Clockhouse, Kindred, Halcyone, Canary, Ibbetson Street, Rockhurst Review, Naugatuck River Review, Orchard Street Press, Healing Muse and Bacopa Press. Her first book is titled When the Universe Brings Us Back, 2022.

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