They believe the world can be good, so I tap 
the car horn and raise a fist in solidarity 
with the six or seven teenagers, all of them 
white, in T-shirts and shorts, gathered safely 

on the corner by the hardware, each holding 
a hand-lettered, cardboard sign: Equality Now!,
or No Justice, No Peace, or a photograph 
of the black man murdered down south by the forces 

of order. A couple of them wave in response, 
proud to be taking a stand, and I am nearly felled 
by the intensity of what I must call love 
and a cutting grief for their faith in all of us. 

What do they expect will happen now? 
They have never seen the grimy abattoirs 
of the cities, and surely there is closer wrong, 
always and even here, in our northern town 

of a thousand souls, but I won’t let you call this 
the self-regarding theatre of lovely gesture 
or conclude that I am talking about futility.
People walk past. People drive past. 

Customers go in and out of the hardware,
and the softest breeze of an early June afternoon 
brushes the heat of the sun from the protesters’ 
pale legs, from arms yet untanned after the chill of spring.

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