The Five Stages of Grief

Denial
This has nothing to do with blackness.
This has everything to do with blackness.

Anger
I could break things
but everything is broken.

Bargaining
Maybe I should have left
with the slave catchers.

Depression
I will die in this same skin
that I’m living in.

Acceptance
Cotton never left the plantation
only my mind did.

E. Ethelbert Miller is editor of Poet Lore magazine, director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University, and author of, most recently, The Fifth Inning.

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