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Poem-A-Day

Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today's talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 350,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication. For more information about how to syndicate Poem-a-Day, contact poem-a-day@poets.org.

America Gives Its Blackness Back To Me

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, June 29, 2017.
About this Poem 

“‘America Gives Its Blackness Back to Me’ was written last November in the immediate wake of the election. It was spurred by a sudden reminder that as a black person in America I am neither free to determine who I am nor free even to know the precise terms according to which I am defined by others.”
—Shane McCrae

America Gives Its Blackness Back To Me

The shadow I had carried lightly has

Been forced upon me now and heavy since

Bulky since     now and since unwieldy as

A corpse the shadow I     was born from in

 

And to I     should have known I couldn’t being

As how it wasn’t me who lifted it

Not     all the way     from me in the first place being

As how its lightness after was a gift

 

Its near-     bodilessness a gift     from those

Who bind it to me now I should have known

I couldn’t while they watched me     set it loose

 

They bind it     to my back they make it strange

That I knew     in my arms they weigh it down

With the shadow they had kept the bindings in

Copyright © 2017 by Shane McCrae. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 29, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Shane McCrae. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 29, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.