Race Riot, Tulsa, 1921
The blazing white shirts of the white men
are blanks on the page, looking at them is like
looking at the sun, you could go blind.
Under the snouts of the machine guns,
the dark glowing skin of the women and
men going to jail. You can look at the
gleaming horse—chestnuts of their faces the whole day.
All but one descend from the wood
back of the flat-bed truck. He lies,
shoes pointed North and South,
knuckles curled under on the splintered slats,
head thrown back as if he is in a
field, his face tilted up
towards the sky, to get the sun on it, to
darken it more and more toward the color of the human.
from The Dead and the Living (Knopf, 1984), © Sharon Olds 1984, used by permission of the author and the publisher