I drove through a new world today.
One where there was rough and ruin,
And men in chains,
Forced to carry the scars
of a thousand generations.
The boys were branded with red pigment
On their heads and chests,
Curses of the men before them
Scraped bare for all to see.
The girls were gagged and blindfolded,
Their tears never free,
Trapped in a dark vacuum
where spears of hate and violence and misunderstanding
Protruded from their chests.
And the women?
Oh, the women.
The women were bowed,
with the earth on their shoulders…
Centuries of burdens
pressing deep into their souls.
Heads held high,
And grave smirks on their faces.
The buildings were spattered with sprayed-on memories,
The cars mere husks of what they once were.
A ghost town full of mortals,
Trapped between time and space
In a forced continuum
That never allowed them to grow up;
Never allowed them to thrive,
I saw the pain, the fear, the hatred, the blame;
Repressed rage behind wary eyes,
Fists in the air amid collective sighs.
No names given,
and they were given no names,
Blood in the streets,
and evil lurking in shadows.
With innumerable adversaries
striking relentlessly from all angles.
Today, I saw
The “other” I never got used to,
The “ugly” I never saw plain.
I saw years of despair, tribulation,
I saw the things that happen
When the soul of a man
is ripped from its core,
His identity stripped,
his will broken.
I saw what happens when
a society turns against you,
and civility is only a wishful dream.
Where unity is not United,
And division is perceived as salvation.
Today, I drove through the world I’ve always known…
But this time I had my eyes open.