Clear Water

In Jacksonville, North Carolina, my brother was eight years old,
In a department store, on tip toes, he was trying to get a drink.
“Boy! Don’t drink from that! That’s the colored folk’s fountain!
Can’t you read? It’s plain to see. Use the white people’s fountain.”
Bewildered, he looked around for Mom who fearlessly stepped up:
“Excuse me, but water has no color; he can drink where he pleases,
Go on, son, get your drink.” Now, noting her accent, the clerk said,
“You must be from New York City.”  “I am.” said my Irish Mother,
“And the water there is clear too!”  The clerk rushed off in a huff.
My brother, dead now, was only eight, my Mom is gone too, but I
Just a baby then, recall it as family history told over and again
Remembering for them and, if it means anything, for y’all too.


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Poem first appeared in Raven Chronicles, Take a Stand Against Hate 2020