Thursday Poem


Standing in line, waiting to go into the Library of Congress
a black woman stands two people ahead of me and
a white security guard says to her,
It’s a beautiful day.

She nods, Yes, it is.
and turns to the front.

He does not move.

He says, If it’s such a beautiful day,
why aren’t you smiling?

She does not answer and the white people in line
do not notice
but she and I,
we hold our breaths and stand
very still.

The guard walks closer
into her
space and demands,

She does not.

In the silence, we hear blood
staining the concrete steps.


She does not.

No one will pull a weapon
fast enough to stop what
already happen(ed)(s)


She does not.

I don’t know how to turn on my
camera fast enough
to keep the truth from unravelling
from the lie laced white lips.


She does not.

He looks around.
there are other white people

Decides not

We still are not breathing.

The line moves.

I marvel at the black woman ahead
of me.
to be that brave
while holding your breath
to be that truth in the face
of threaten
your ruin to gather strength
and shoot it through your bones

those who don’t know
call it magic
and it does wonder
but only if you haven’t been
paying attention.

by Alexis Smithers
from SplitThis Rock