Black Boys Play the Classics By Toi Derricotte

The most popular “act” in
Penn Station
is the three black kids in ratty   
sneakers & T-shirts playing
two violins and a cello—Brahms.   
White men in business suits
have already dug into their pockets   
as they pass and they toss in   
a dollar or two without stopping.   
Brown men in work-soiled khakis   
stand with their mouths open,   
arms crossed on their bellies   
as if they themselves have always   
wanted to attempt those bars.   
One white boy, three, sits
cross-legged in front of his
idols—in ecstasy—
their slick, dark faces,
their thin, wiry arms,
who must begin to look
like angels!
Why does this trembling
pull us?
A: Beneath the surface we are one.
B: Amazing! I did not think that they could speak this tongue.
Toi Derricotte, “Black Boys Play the Classics” from Tender. Copyright ©1997 by Toi Derricotte. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, www.upress.pitt.edu. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: Tender (1997)

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