wailing for 16th Street

the love that forgives
would have a hard time that morning
it would find itself
clearing its hands
of smoldering rubble
splintered glass
and the broken bodies
of four little Black girls

Birmingham knows all too well
how bloody September can be
eating pain ripe and flush
that drops from hatred’s own branches
we tend to forget today
that terrorism
often grows from familiar trees

four little girls
four Black babies torn from a world
that despised them from birth
four who’d never know sock hops
high school or their own babies
and Christ is trapped in stained glass
helpless at that point to lead

keep the wall in Jerusalem
we shall keep wailing here on 16th street
Meridian, Memphis, Selma, Greensboro
wherever hate and death meet on their dance card
because you see, somehow
we hope the tears and struggle
make some kind of sense
out of having a love that forgives
against a hate that never wishes to.

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