September 17, 2006


Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee;
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, "Nigger."

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That's all that I remember.

Countee Cullen

Note |  The summer of 2006 was vile, with a war that killed my cousin, an incredibly sweet, competent, and inspiring Israeli young man. During the war's month-long horrors, which killed countless other innocents, my thoughts turned repeatedly to Incident, a poem I first read when I taught young children, their families, and other early childhood educators. I found in Incident then — and now, a direct link between baseless hatred that destroys the souls of perpetrators and victims, leading to  their deaths. Would that we look into the eyes of Davis (shown in the photo) and into each other's eyes and see in each "other" a facet of the One. (I met Davis this summer at an interview with John Lewis, Civil Rights leader and my Georgia US Congressman.)


littlepurplecow said...

What a moving post. Brave are the souls who can look past the faces of hatred... and seek forgiveness on their behalf.

Anonymous said...

That's a strong poem. I liked it. However I suggest that you make it clear that the child in the photo is not related in any way to the poem. Just in case.

Tamar Orvell said...

Steph, To me, seeking forgiveness for others is probably even harder than seeking forgiveness for or of myself.

Shimon, I added the clarification you suggested. Thank you!