What is black and white and makes you run the other way?
Just came within five paces of a skunk, a white skunk.
At first I thought it was a cat,
white, like Delilah, the feline
next door. But the nose, its shape not its smell,
left no doubt.
I backed off, then shuffled away,
sucked down an alternate route back
to my room in sandled feet.
With footfalls crunching on the walkway,
echoes of shock from recent shootings
surfaced, and with them, shame.
The fear of getting skunked
averted my eyes from this rare beauty.
A white skunk -- luxurious summer coat,
movements frugal and deliberate
owning its own space and no more,
content to move in the shadows, in the night,
yet not startled or deterred by this intruder's sight.
A white skunk yet to assume the defensive
stance, or spray, or stink, or denial of its black underbelly.
Black and white, in unexpected places and proportions,
white coming out to explore the dark colors of night.
Me, white man, with a badge-of-sorts in my pocket,
a business card, black, white and red, reading,
"Law Enforcement Chaplain."
(Glad my fear didn't tempt me to unholster it.)
Skunk fearless of my scent or stride,
Why take the long route?
Why not face the profiling, proliferating, polarizing;
the beauty beaming from this life,
the stench of dried blood on Phil's car seat,
on Brent’s cop beat.
Why sidestep cold bodies in summer heat
for fleeting relief, smirking at Trump tweet?
Is that who we want to be?
Could have walked away from this page too. The late hour
the long to-do list, the expansive silence of virtual
words sent out into cyberspace.
There are plenty of outs.
And... I did not walk away
from this once blank white page, or keys of black
dots and dashes, letters, words, and spaces,
unique markings and lasting meanings,
waiting to be discovered
Tried to let black letters speak for themselves.
And you -- if you’re still here,
stayed the course despite the risk of stink.
Perhaps a step in the right direction.
So pull up a chair. Tell us:
What's black and white and makes you run the other way, or stay?