Black Pieta

Strange fruit lives in the

bones of black mothers,

 

the blood of their sons,

marrow of their daughters.

 

Blue winds drift by

full of poplar scents,

 

aromas that never leave

the maternal soul.

 

They exhort their sons

to be careful,

 

be safe, 

make it back home.

 

They know they can die

for the smallest things,

for absolutely nothing.

 

Yet, they also know the American Dream

through the body of their sons

they hold closely in their arms.

 

They watch them leave,

hoping they experience

 

just ordinary prejudice and

not a blue knee on their neck,

 

that sculpts

them both

into a black pieta

 

Note: 

Strange Fruit refers to the song about lynching made popular by both Nina Simone and Billie Holiday.  Here are the lyrics:

 

Southern trees bear a strange fruit

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root

Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze

Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant South

The bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth

Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh

Then the sudden smell of burnin’ flesh

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck

For the rain to gather

For the wind to suck

For the sun to rot

For the tree to drop

Here is a strange and bitter crop