Attempts Toward Reconciliation

a short collection
of poetry and photos


To My Enemy-Brother
January 2017

I keep coming back to Martin Luther King’s concept of the enemy-brother: how would I respond if the person who committed the wrong was my brother? I don’t always have an answer, but I have made a practice of asking this question. It is a way I am privileged to respond because of my personality and because racism has happened to me mostly through words and fears, rarely through direct action: some people who experience racism should not try to embrace a racist, opening themselves up to being hurt more. Yet, I wrote this poem while reflecting on the concept of the enemy-brother, and I do want it to be possible to respond with love as well as truth.

To My Enemy Brother

Beloved brother, enemy-brother
Let me take your hand
your hand a slap
your hand a lash
your hand a noose
Let me untie the knots,
untie the knots you’ve snarled,
snarled around your heart.
Let my tears wash away,
wash away your rage.
If you stop kicking me,
I will bathe your feet.

Beloved brother, enemy-brother,
bruises can be jewels
if love is a crown
bruises can be jewels
if love is a crown
but hate can only be thorns.

I love you
beloved brother, enemy-brother
I love your hands
your palm a salve, not a slap
your fist a bump, not a punch
your shake a life-saver, not a life-taker

Beloved brother, enemy-brother
I rise to embrace you
but you leave me hanging

Krystal J. F. Grant

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