Bethea Buchanan, “Uncle Lee”

Bethea Buchanan

Uncle Lee eats downstairs at Christmas.
Refuses to share a table with that goddamn nigger-
the reason for the oreo baby
dark skin and blue eyes.
“It just ain’t right!”
But a four year old can’t understand.
Uncle Lee and Daddy are both men,
two eyes, hands, and feet-
each have mouths and noses,
stand so tall his elementary brain
can’t fathom ever growing so big.
He doesn’t know that he’s…
Doesn’t see his skin as brown-
draws his family black crayon stick figures
… like everyone else’s.
Doesn’t know about segregation,
degradation, a lynch mob nation,
the great doctor’s assassination-
or what he stood for, marched for
died for.
Doesn’t know what a “nigger” is, why it’s bad
or why his whole family seems to hate his dad.
All he knows is that for some reason-
Uncle Lee eats downstairs at Christmas.

Bio: Bethea Buchanan’s poetry has been published in Catawba, Wild Goose Poetry Review, and Dead Mule. She lives in Hickory, NC

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