Marilyn Nelson

Excerpt from A Wreath for Emmett Till

Emmett Till's name still catches in my throat,
like syllables waylaid in a stutterer's mouth …


The Dimensions of the Milky Way

Behind the men's dorm

at dusk on a late May evening …


Mama's Promise

I have no answer to the blank inequity
of a four-year-old dying of cancer …


The House on Moscow Street

These men, these proud black men:
our first to touch their fingers to the sky…



Thank you for these tiny
particles of ocean salt,
pearl-necklace viruses …


Daughters, 1900

Five daughters, in the slant light on the porch,
are bickering. The eldest has come home …

Marilyn Nelson 2