The Middle Classes

by Kwame Dawes

Take old baseball park staccato bodies
in candid surprise and that dumb
questioning look before recognition
or before thought arrives in the face,
and they say the voice, gravelly,
contained, is Babe Ruth, body eaten
away by cancer, and there they are,
the morose fans, outside the stadium,
lined on the streets, and I see your
brother, and you, too, as if this
is normal, this way your body
climbs over other bodies, white
men clamoring to see, too, and all
of you in fedoras and jackets, and
you wonder what freedom has
come to make this so ordinary
a day — but this is the art of silence,
the absence of smells, like a Rockwell
painting of a Parks photo of a family
cliché, mum and dad anchoring
the sofa, he with his newspaper
in shirt sleeves, she with her
knitting and stretched out on the
rug in teenage splendor, the daughter
doing her sums, and the draping
of filmy curtains, rising above
it all, and so silent in the ward,
that we can’t hear the scent of collards
and stale fish, or the sewer in the back,
but this is the art of a Dream,
and like old Ruth, we all will
die and not away, funking up the joint
in democratic splendor, dust to dust.

Poem copyright 2018 by Kwame Dawes. All rights reserved.

See more poems from Kwame Dawes debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle:
Singing Around the Piano and The Tent of Gladness


Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompt

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