Marlin M. Jenkins


Emancipation Memorial

under your hand                      a crouching slave 1                   almost naked

commemorating                      the proclamation                      that set the slaves free 2

you stand tall                          a hero, captain                         emancipator

you are the man                      in the memorial                        with a name

this nameless slave                 crouched                                  looking forward

not at you                               not at that hand                       extending, what?

a blessing?                                                                              an acknowledgment?

what it is not doing:                offering itself                           to help him up

your hand on paper                 his on ground                           knee on ground

your full jacket                        his chin up                                back arched

bare and greening                   oxidizing in the sun,                  rain, under your shadow

still enslaved                           the day after                            the emancipation

and still down                          on a knee                                 in our memory of you

1) excuse me, former slave
2) citation needed



MARLIN M. JENKINS was born and raised in Detroit and is a poetry student in University of Michigan's MFA program. His writings have been given homes by The Collagist, The Journal, Word Riot, and The Puritan, among others. You can find him online at and @Marlin_Poet.