My Sister Sees a Burning Cross

her hands in her pockets, feet turned
out east&west, her boyfriend – dark face an
echo in his draw-string hoodie – is asking us
about the white folks out here. we say they
don’t bother us much (we say hi to the sheriff
so he knows our faces better than his bullets,
we smile at the neighbors so they know our
terracotta legs splayed out on the lawn) they
just spook us sometimes. bullhorn bb-guns late in
the night, humming country music with reverb engines
& DO NOT TREAD ON ME flags sprouting
hairs on they pick-up trucks
& a porch light comes on. my sister grabs her boy’s
hand and we laugh, white teeth signal lights on our
faces, shout Just Three Negros Passing
Through! as the old man rattles his door,
& we jog down the hill, my sister thumbing the house
key & my hands easing out of fists. she tells us she’s
seen a burning cross before, out on Black
Star Canyon, where the coyotes like to
hide in ditches & press their undersides into the cool
earth when the sun hangs itself at 97 degrees,
says it scared her half to death, a cross
smoking just as the night was straining out
its stars, & she ran the rest of the way home. her boy
sucks his teeth, says Nah, No Klansman Gon Catch
Me, Throw Me Into The Trunk Get-Out Style,
& we ask if lovecraft country on TV, that jordan peele
show with sundown towns – Yeah, That One,
& How Whack that the white folks
threatened to shoot him when he
asked for his pop, & how they shot at him anyway when
they dug his father out from under the slaughterhouse.
Nah, he says, You Wouldn’t Catch Me Dead
In There. I Woulda Drove Out So Fast They
Wouldn’t Of Known – I’d Be Gone & my sister and i
laugh, taking our shoes off at the door, knowing with
our fingers pulled up in fists that we’d‘ve
dug him out that slaughterhouse too, another
black man under the dirt. & we turn on the porch light.