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

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