Dear Lord, they gone and elected Massa.
Even though they seen him at the whipping tree.
Even though they seen us waving goodbye
to the loved ones he sold down the river.
They cast their ballots forgetting we stoop
with aching backs over his profits.
They voted forgetting the strawberries
they enjoy with creme fraiche have to be picked,
sorted, and basketed by human hands.
Forgetting Massa’s strawberry holdings,
his vast investments in dairy cattle.
I had thought, since we grew up together
and have been cordial since we used to run
around in noisy games way past sunset,
that they could see through Massa to his slaves.
And recognize how they was his slaves too.
Well, that ain’t come to pass, more’s the pity.
Maybe they was fooled by gilded half-truth.
Speaking as someone who washed Massa’s drawers,
I wish you showed them them skids on the gold lame`.
National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson is an award-winning poet and author or translator of over seventeen books including The Homeplace, The Fields Of Praise: New And Selected Poems, Carver: A Life In Poems and many other books.