The Whistler

At daybreak on Saturdays
the enchanted music rose
to my bedroom window.
Deep and melodious,
its origin, mysterious.

One morning I leaned
out as the whistler
walked up the driveway.
I spied an older black man
and thought it my secret.

Then I was a boy unbeaten.
Though Selma and Montgomery
had rocked a nation’s conscience,
and Newark fell in flames,
I still didn’t know a thing.

Nothing I’d ever heard
in church or our grand piano
approached its power.
Whistled by a tall thin man
stopping to pick up our trash.

Decades later the memory
of the whistler continues
to inspire me: how the soul
insists on making great song,
even in hatred, even at war.


#### Poet’s Notes ####

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