Friday Poem

Photograph of 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?

by Lucille Clifton
Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000
from Boa Editions, 2000