Stranger, I find myself lost. Let us watch this new age gather
Overhead. Let’s see what rains onto unaccustomed skin.
Once, we were pelt, fur, hide. Only the seasons mattered. Now,
We shiver, crying out. Not from winter, but the fear in skin.
I see the tall masts of history in horizon fog. They dip
And rise. The tides they ride swell under human skin.
Be my guest. Drink tea, taste fruit and bread. The meat rests,
Cooling on the slab, but see how wine has flushed our skin?
This land you’ve sought is peopled with enemies and kin.
You’ll learn to read the whole long story written on skin.
We passengers wait. Our restless waiting forms an island.
One woman stands, sings. Her music enters through my skin.
Stranger, you’re the words to a hymn I’ve only ever hummed.
Come. Let’s erase the distance between skin and skin.
-Tracy K. Smith
United States Poet Laureate, 2017-2019