St. Roach

 For that I never knew you, I only learned to dread you,
for that I never touched you, they told me you are filth,
they showed me by every action to despise your kind;
for that I saw my people making war on you,
I could not tell you apart, one from another,
for that in childhood I lived in places clear of you,
for that all the people I knew met you by
crushing you, stamping you to death, they poured boiling
water on you, they flushed you down,
for that I could not tell one from another
only that you were dark, fast on your feet, and slender.
Not like me.
For that I did not know your poems And that I do not know any of your sayings And that I cannot speak or read your language And that I do not sing your songs And that I do not teach our children to eat your food or know your poems or sing your songs But that we say you are filthing our food But that we know you not at all.
Yesterday I looked at one of you for the first time.
You were lighter that the others in color, that was neither good nor bad.
I was really looking for the first time.
You seemed troubled and witty.
Today I touched one of you for the first time.
You were startled, you ran, you fled away Fast as a dancer, light, strange, and lovely to the touch.
I reach, I touch, I begin to know you.

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