He sits in front of Bea's Corner Store
(another shiftless nigger)
a perfect Rockwell
by the rusted Grape Nehi sign.
He hand-rolls cigarettes,
ponders the color of a God.
He hears cicadas buzz
in harmony with memories
of when it wasn’t wise
to look daylight white men in the eyes,
because they might come to call at night.
Now old, those men pass
on their way to buy Bea’s shine;
they call him by name as if they’re friends.
He wonders what they choose to forget.
On Saturdays, little white boys
drop their battered bikes,
head into Bea’s for colored popsicles.
But he needs to see them colorless,
and can’t help wonder
what they’ve already learned.
He has heard of the change bought
with the blood of those more bold,
now he’s too old, too tired, too black to care.
So he nods to all, while he appears
to focus on a patch of oil that darkens the asphalt,
and stains the scent of Gardenias in the air.