Carolina in New York

(An American Dream)

When the world walks past the door
and the black woman’s face
looks in like a stump on fire,
the white man, fearing the blaze,
runs for the lobby stairs
and trips.

Unconscious, he begins to dream.
It all started with a stream,
a far Carolina stream
big enough for trading ships,
and for the docks
where he tried to sell her twice
at better than bargain price,
she was so damned ugly.

Giving her bare back
whipflicks daily,
telling her to get beautiful,
he made the waiting witch:
there was the murmur of a valley;
and a dream he couldn’t watch;
and a fever on the docks:

and one day she flew away
on a flamboyant planter’s wand
imperiously waved
at thighs that promised fever pitch
and finally enslaved
every castle in Carolina,
never mind the looks;
and Carolina burned.

* Carolina: Charlston in South Carolina, founded in 1670, became the major port for the American slave trade.