It attached itself to our lives, first
like an unplanned pregnancy,
then like our fourth child.
We didn’t talk about its disfigured face
or its crooked limbs and spine.
We went about the people’s business
tried to pretend that it wasn’t really there,
though some nights it filled every open space
in the room, often crawling into bed between us,
making it difficult to sleep.
Every new registered voter, successful boycott,
demonstration and prime-time television minute
put fat on its face. Images of Medgar
escorting James Meredith into Ole Miss
were celebrated with new front teeth.
When it crawled to the front door, and spoke
its first cuss words
it sounded like a car backfired twice.