What if you were my son?

Copyright © 2019
By Alice Walker
 
If you were my son,
I would wonder
How you came to say this?
How you came to make
It up.  Because, surely,
It is a fantasy.
What are you really
Trying to hide?
 
Were you tricked
By those brothers
Who smile so much;
Were you fooled
By a history
That seemed to have them
Somewhere in it,
Though a lot more
Simple and naïve.
 
Were you misled
By tales of us
A lot of ancestors
And relatives told?
 
Did you believe a myth?
 
And did you encounter
Instead
The terror
Of a sophisticated
Ability to wound -
Perhaps an evil
Never dreamed
Before?
 
A reality no one dared
Warn you against
Because that might disturb
An ancient view
Of harmlessness
That suffering descendants
Consume as food?
 
Oh, son.  For you are my son.
I sit with you in your cell
And cannot believe
You belong there.
 
I know there is a story
Behind the one
You are telling.
 
I know it is awful too.
 
In your mind perhaps more horrible
Than the present lie
You must admit
Is too grotesque
To be believed.
 
Forget the press.  The fans.
The saving of face
In any direction. You are too precious
For us to lose.
 
It is always the heart
That must be saved,
Only its freedom serves us,
Whether in dungeon
Or on mountaintop.
 
Release your heart
With the durable key
Of truth.  Don’t worry
About us.  We can take
Whatever it is
You fear to tell.
 
We have become
A scarily rugged people.
We have seen, heard, and in too many cases
Felt it all.  We can bear to know
One more shocking, or shameful,
Indiscretion. What we
Cannot bear
Is one more
Sacrificed
You.

 

 

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