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The white man has laid down his burden
in the middle of Broadway
and under the exhausted plane trees
black men lie like rags
on the benches where once
old white ladies chirped in a row
watching industrialized man
roll by in regal successful cars:
the chrome polished,
tires with the treads still thick
and nearly silent engines
hot with power.

The burden that has been cast off
does not know what to do
for he had never wanted to be carried
and had indeed thought himself to be
the bearer;
but now we see that bearer and borne
were perhaps not what either had thought
and that the safari must halt
looking around in puzzlement
under the hot New York sun
as if wondering how it had wandered
so far from the veldt
and repack as travelers always do
when the load has shifted
and cannot be carried
even
by the strong.

—Elizabeth Duran

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