409: How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This

409: How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This

409: How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This

This week, we’ve chosen to highlight episodes that take up questions of social justice. The outrage and heartbreak brought on by the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other Black citizens remind us that courageous dialogue about racial prejudice is critical to the survival of our culture. And we believe that poetry is a perfect vehicle for just such dialogue.


How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This
by Hanif Abdurraqib

dear reader, with our heels digging into the good
mud at a swamp’s edge, you might tell me something
about the dandelion & how it is not a flower itself
but a plant made up of several small flowers at its crown
& lord knows I have been called by what I look like
more than I have been called by what I actually am &
I wish to return the favor for the purpose of this
exercise. which, too, is an attempt at fashioning
something pretty out of seeds refusing to make anything
worthwhile of their burial. size me up & skip whatever semantics arrive
to the tongue first. say: that boy he look like a hollowed-out grandfather
clock. he look like a million-dollar god with a two-cent
heaven. like all it takes is one kiss & before morning,
you could scatter his whole mind across a field.

"How Can Black People Write About Flowers at a Time Like This," by Hanif Abdurraqib, from A FORTUNE FOR YOUR DISASTER by Hanif Abdurraqib, copyright © 2019 Tin House Books. Used by permission of Tin House.