Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge!

The Trade

Your parents call you
into their bedroom. They've
been whispering and your ears
want to hear what they hear but you
fear what it might be. Your mom
speaks first because your dad always
speaks second. You fear they both
are trying to teach you how to chew
your food, wash your hands, tuck
your shirt and tie your shoes.

Everything is unexpected like a baseball
trade. Your mom says you're going
to a new school and it's the one across
town, the place where the white kids are.
You look down at your skin and notice
for the first time you're black. You never
wore a different uniform. You've been black
all your life. You wouldn't change this for all
the blackness in the world. You wouldn't change
it for all the whiteness now.
You give your mom a Curt Flood look
and your dad nothing at all. You turn
from the doorway and walk back
to your room. You feel traded. You feel

Outside your window
the birds are chirping blues.
Ma Rainey is singing about the Mississippi risin'.
Sam Cooke calls from next door and says
"Yes, a flood is comin' and a change is gonna

Written by E. Ethelbert Miller


Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge