sitting in a colleague’s class, i listened
to high school students compare a Christian baker
denying wedding cakes to same sex couples,
to Black men asked to perform a song and dance
for the KKK. the hypothetical caused
some to glance at my skin, my silence. from behind
one young man explained the Klan didn’t exist
anymore, hadn’t killed anyone in decades
according to his impromptu estimation. this
after Mother Emmanuel, where nine closed eyes,
folded hands in prayer, and opened to Jesus. this
after tiki-torch Nazis crashed hateful white waves
of clubs and cars into peaceful bodies. this
as freedom flyers arrive in mailboxes, daily
making white pride promises of protection
and a good night’s sleep despite the encroaching
darkness. it wasn’t my class, but i slowly turned
to make the only appropriate contact i could:
“Stop talking,” a finger slicing across my throat,
miming the tracks of chains, knives, nooses.
he tried to make it better. began to explain…
“No. Stop talking.” he did.
i should have said more.