The Riddle

We do not recognize the body

Of Emmett Till. We do not know

The boy’s name nor the sound

Of his mother wailing. We have

Never heard a mother wailing.

We do not know the history

Of this nation in ourselves. We

Do not know the history of our-

Selves on this planet because

We do not have to know what

We believe we own. We believe

We own your bodies but have no

Use for your tears. We destroy

The body that refuses use. We use

Maps we did not draw. We see

A sea so cross it. We see a moon

So land there. We love land so

Long as we can take it. Shhh. We

Can’t take that sound. What is

A mother wailing? We do not

Recognize music until we can

Sell it. We sell what cannot be

Bought. We buy silence. Let us

Help you. How much does it cost

To hold your breath underwater?

Wait. Wait. What are we? What?

What on Earth are we? What?


- Jericho Brown





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