Eating a Hotdog in a Cocoon
In the mid-twentieth century days
Streets bustle, uptown is alive,
“Hey there, Margaret Ann, where you on your way to?”
“Going to Woolworth’s to meet Rose, Jodie, Rae, and Ila.”
Shades of brown skin announce our presence.
It doesn’t matter how mannerly, cute
Quiet, clean, or intelligent we are,
We’re not allowed to sit in the red vinyl booths on the side of the store.
Teenage friends stand at Woolworth's on Paint Street to eat a hotdog.
Jim Crow laws, official in the south, unspoken in our town
Dictate our Chillicothe lives.
We know things aren’t right but we don’t talk about civil rights,
We don’t confront injustice;
We exist wrapped in a cocoon of acceptance.
Chillicothe has restrictions to let us know that we are Negroes.
There are invisible lines that we don’t cross.
The first commandment for us is: Know Thy Place.