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In the graph, bands of color recede like mountain silhouettes drawn by a child...
In the graph, bands of color recede
like mountain silhouettes drawn by a child-
yellow foothills in the foreground for black women,
taller green slopes for their white sisters,
then a high red plateau littered with black men
who died on the climb. In the distance,
sharp blue peaks of white men tower over
the landscape, majestic as the Tetons at twilight,
summits rising as men age, thrusting
so high the page finally runs out of sky.
I have known people whose bodies litter
this landscape-grandfathers who turned off
their oxygen, overdosed women, a doctor
found in the forest with his shotgun.
And I have climbed these peaks,
know how tired hikers give up
when thirst gnaws and confusion grows
until clear streams look like blood,
and down feels no different from up.