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A Poem for MLK Day 2016

I almost cried on stage Sunday night. Each time I perform Burning Bush Variations, the “Self-Portrait” movement is freely improvised. As I played it at Cornelia Street Cafe in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., my inner voice chanted, “Let my people go. Let my people go. Let my people go. Let my people go.” I lamented that it still needs to be said for my people, that it needs to be repeated, that it needs to be said for many other peoples. Monday morning, I reflected more on that moment by writing this poem.

“Let my people go”
shouting these words
scalds my voice
“Let my people go”
chanting these words
rips tears out my eyes
“Let my people go”

but these words are not mine,
enemy of oppressors
bearer of sorrows
giver of mercy through justice,
when you say
“Let my people go”
all matter and power succumb to you.

when you withhold these words,
giver of life through patience,
my chants and shouts
beg for morsels of shalom
now
between your first words
and your final feast
“Let my people go”

Krystal J. Grant

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