Looking Back

When I was 18
I was on a troop train heading
for basic training when
we stopped to take on water
or whatever it is trains stop for
and after relieving myself
I came out of the men’s room when
an elderly black man asked me
where the men’s room was
and when I pointed in the direction
of where I had just come from
he said, “No, Sir. “The Colored room.”
And being from the North and it being 1954
I had no idea what he was talking about
when a red faced young woman came running
from behind a concession stand and shouted
at the old man leaning on his cane…
“You leave that man alone.”
and I said it was alright
he just wanted to find the restroom
and she said, “that BOY knows where the
colored room is.” the
look in his eyes still tattooed in my mind
Many years later I saw Blacks hosed down
and attacked with dogs in Alabama
and later still saw two black children
escorted to school by the National Guard
and now decades later two black girls
will be protected by the Secret Service
their father in the White House
who would have believed it
a rainbow coalition
a half-white half-black man
holding the highest position in the land.

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