Walking My Dog at Night

But what would I say in my 911 call?
That six or seven young black men
were standing on the corner with a phone,
saying, How much do you need?
How much what, and what did I really see?
Meanwhile, the police would come
and possibly ruin a night that didn’t need
to be ruined that way, and there I would be,
the white lady whose biases are allowed
to dictate how other people’s lives will go.
But still. Still, there’s menace in the air tonight,
and the smell of weed, and I’m spooked by
leftover firecrackers from 4th of July.
Every time we take the last walk of the night,
I imagine it — what I would do, what it would
look like and sound like, how I would be
forever changed. Would I scream? Run?
Hit the ground? You’re allowed to think
I’m self-centered in this scenario,
because I am. But what would I say?
That something has finally won, or
something in me has broken?
That after 20 years in Chicago,
19 on the South Side, I’m now afraid
of young black men, afraid of them
when all this time, I only meant
to be afraid for them?

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