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Short Reads

Short Reads Summer Selection

ROSA PARKS

after Auden after Dante

O what heavenly suffering—
What she can and can't do.
(Save her a dance, Bruegel.)
From knee to shining knee,
Where is the painting of her
Feet, which have never been
Comfortable, arranged in pairs
As peaches are, relaxed, nothing
To do. Where is she not
Not speaking No! trying
To keep her world small and
Bold. Where is she confessing
Yes: I am neither arctic ox
Nor Peruvian goat. But ah,
But oh, this is she, nose-flared
And ear-deep along a tangled
Bank, trying to find an end
To the story of people being
Bought and sold. The raw
Years thaw and thaw and
The law makes big men
Amend but a little. When she
Lay down for the last time,
Did You tell her, O Lord—
I couldn't—how white those
Dark woods would get?

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