Election Night 2008

Tonight is a good night

For white mothers of black sons:


We, who were more brave than strong,

Who dared to stare our own racism in the face,

Then reach around to love

The brown skinned children

In our bellies,


Those beautiful babies

Whose placentas dug fiercely

Into uterine walls,

And pushed our bodies

To extremes

Of dysfunction,


Luminous children

Brought by nurses with surprised faces

To exhausted,


And mutinous white mothers.


We pushed these babes in strollers

Through gaggles of envious white women,

(Oh, where could they “get one”?)

And angry black women  who knew

We didn’t deserve

Such gorgeous children.


We took deep breaths and prayed,

That even white moms

Could raise black sons

Into good men

Who knew clearly who they were!


Mostly we did this alone,

Without much help from

The fathers,

Or grandparents of any hue.


We searched for decent housing ,

(Which neighborhoods?)

And jobs where our children’s pictures

On our desks

Wouldn’t get us fired.


We searched

For strong black men

To befriend our children,

But often found

Not even one!


We screwed up,

Lost jobs,

Lost homes.

We wept  with anger

And with fear,

And wept with joy,

Often alone.


Tonight I sit

Alone again,

And weep to watch

A dead white mother’s

Beautiful black son

Reach again,

Around our fear

And hold our futures

And our earth,

In careful,

Grieving hands.




About the poet:

I was born in Washington D.C., a very  ‘Southern’, and racially segregated city at the time. My parents were immigrants from Denmark, and as a teenager I was sent to relatives (and boarding school) for two years back in the “home country”. I went back and forth for extended stays several times through my twenties, but finally decided that I really was an American after my biracial son was born because it seemed very important that he grow up  in a community where there were both adults and other children that looked like him. Denmark had almost no racial diversity at the time.

I completed an MFA in Sculpture and a second Masters degree in Social Work so I could, hopefully, support my child. Social Work was not a very good fit for me and after working in it for over two decades, I have resumed activity as a visual artist.

p.s. I live in a  small mid-western city, in a hundred year old house with two dogs , a cat and a lot of mess.


About the poem:

Mostly I tend to write poems when an experience is too wonderful or awful to be dealt with in ordinary language. Obama’s election was one of these, on a very personal level.



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