I’m a white woman.
You are a black man.
As you walk toward me in front of the convenience store,
I prepare myself.
I take in your height, the depth of brown skin & the width of cheekbone,
grey sweat pants & a ball cap over the durag.
You could be my age: late forties.
We are a match, made to rewrite the old stories.
The ones our great great grandparents were told.
I anticipate the moment our eyes will meet.
I rehearse what my blue ones will say:
I am not afraid of you; you are just like me.
I honor you for the cross you bear in this life, this country.
I don’t know how to lift that load, but I see it.
I do not pity you,
Instead I give you kindness because you are my brother.

But as our paths cross on the narrow concrete,
you duck your head and cast your eyes down
and shuffle just a little.
I keep walking.
I don’t know what to do.

This sidewalk is paved with good intentions.