Joyce Pace Byrd
           Zen Mama Poetry                  
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Sestina for Michelle                                

 Sestina for Michelle

 for Michelle Obama                                                                                  

 I wonder what it was like for her

 moving into that storied White place

 with its Palladian architecture and fabled colors  
 Did the ghosts of her forebears  
rise around her, a howling wind, demanding she bring justice for them?    

Surrounded by stately portraits commemorating them,

the celebrated white men and women before her,

did she want to proclaim the truth like a raging wind?

Where are the tributes to the men and women who built this place,

who cleaned it, polished it, fed its occupants - her forebears,  

the people of bronzed and brown colors?

People forced into servitude because of their colors,

colors used to demean and oppress them,

the color she shares with her forebears.

Do their stories compel her

to address the inequities embedded in this place?

Are centuries of injustice settled on one autumn wind?

She must have had some unquiet moments watching wind

flutter leaves on well-tended trees still wearing fall colors

when she moved her family into this place.

She must have questioned how to stand for them

all, how to open a heart wide enough for her

to hold them all - the white as well as the black forebears.

For, as unfair as it must seem at times, they are her forebears,

too; the ignorant ones, puffed up with their own wind,

who never would have recognized her

beautiful, inquisitive mind because of her color.

They would have expected her only to serve them,

and furthermore, to know her place.

How does truth live in this place,

the truth of the injustices done to and by her forebears?

How does she reconcile them?

She cannot scatter the bones of history in the wind.  

She cannot alter the history of color.

What task has destiny appointed her?

She is first to occupy this place, carried on a wind

of change for all her forebears, no matter their color.

How does she honor them? I wonder what it is like for her.

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