An Ode to Birmingham

An Ode to Birmingham

Come, take part- are the words that called out. 

Come, see- are the words that whispered.

Come, feel- are the words that repeated 

until I made last weeks journey. 

Pilgrimage?

In Kelly Ingram Park 

the presence of marchers,

protesters

from the 60's 

lingered.

My tears

welled,

filled, dropped, and I let them. 

The weight of what happened during that decade

engulfed me. 

Who am I to stand here and cry? 

Who am I to stand here and weep?

Who am I to stand here and feel? 

 

I am what happens when freedom is demanded

not asked for.

I am what happens when freedom is 

taken back to where it belongs. 

Us. 

I had every right to stand there and 

cry. 

The 16th Street Baptist Church stood, watching, waiting

and when I was ready I stepped up

and let that church hug me in its shadows. 

I'm sorry- are the words I whispered. 

I'm sorry- are the words I called out. 

I'm sorry- are the words I repeated

to the church,

to its shadow,

to the names

of four girls who should still be here. 

I'm sorry.

In Birmingham, Alabama

the past lingers in the air

like it lingers in me, 

waiting for someone to come

hear its call,

to cry

and weep. 

I'm sorry are the words I said

and today I say, 

thank you.

Thank you for your welcome. 

Thank you for hearing. 

Thank you for seeing 

me,

Birmingham. 

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