I remember being arrested in Minneapolis.
I remember being afraid of the police —
feeling their hands,
rough and squeezing,
and tingling with frustration,
(I was the last of eighty-nine)
on my upper arms,
and my heels bouncing on the steps.
I could breathe all the way.
I could sing even.
Nobody was going to kneel on me.
Nobody was going to take my breath away.
Not then and not now.
I cannot become black in America.
I cannot speak
for anyone black in America.
Not now and not ever.
But I have enough to do
to shake the heart into white folks,
to last me
as long as I can catch my breath.