image

A New Poem From Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine‘s stunning book of poetry and prose, Citizen: An American Lyric, challenged and criticized racism in America. Rankine has penned a new poem, which was written a year before Obama’s Affordable Care Act was signed into law. With the divide between groups deepening in America, Rankine’s new poem, The Health of Us, is extremely relevant today. 

The Health of Us

We heard health care and we thought public option
we thought reaching across the street across the lines
across the aisle was the manifestation of not a red state
not a blue state but these united states we thought
we could be sure of ourselves in this one way sure
of our human element our basic decency
and if justice was how love showed itself in public then love
was defined by access to care when someone anyone
thought that cough that burned the chest
was probably nothing but who knew that fever
after three days that inability to breathe to sleep
to wake in justice in love we thought
we were ready to be just as good to be better
and despite all the ways we exist alone no one
would be on their own we were ready to take a stab
at a kind of human kind of union we were ready to check-up
to look after in this one way we were ready
to care for each other we were ready to see
our range of possibilities as a precious commodity
to know every other as another to live in the width
of our being and we weren’t ignorant or stupid or naïve
or idealists or socialists or communists or Canadians
we understood the private options would still keep us
alive longer we understood the private options
would treat the disease not the symptoms
the private options meant access to specialists
to private options meant access to specialists
to privacy to elective procedures to a team of doctors
to radiology imaging to brand-name drugs we understood
the impossibility of real equality but this single shift
toward a national community we thought
despite being founded on genocide and sustained by slavery
in God’s country we thought we were ready
to see sanity inside the humanity we thought
the improbability of the face on capitol hill meant possibility.

 

 

 

  

Featured image courtesy of Buzzfeed