Margaret Atwood - CHARIVARI

‘They capped their heads with feathers, masked
their faces, wore their clothes backwards, howled
with torches through the midnight winter
and dragged the black man from his house

to the jolting music of broken
instruments, pretending to each other
it was a joke, until

they killed him. I don’t know
what happened to the white bride.’

The American lady, adding she
thought it was a disgraceful piece
of business, finished her tea.

(Note: Never pretend this isn’t
part of the soil too, teadrinkers, and inadvertent
victims and murderers, when we come this way

again in other forms, take care
to look behind, within
where the skeleton face beneath

the face puts on its feather mask, the arm
within the arm lifts up the spear:
Resist those cracked

drumbeats. Stop this. Become human.)