May 29, 2020. Minneapolis.
 “I can’t breathe,”

George Floyd gasps, 
hearty, Black, and then dead

from a white policeman’s knee on his neck.

May 29, 2020. New York City.

Amy Cooper, white,
 loses her job for calling 911,

her “life threatened!” she insists,
 by Christian Cooper, Black,

an innocent birdwatcher in Central Park.

Corona victims everywhere
 gasp, “I can’t breathe,”

threatened, knowing their ventilators
 may not be enough.

It’s hard for all of us to breathe,
 threatened, afraid,

at war not only
 with Covid-19

but also with a racism
 so ugly and deep

that even to begin
 to think of it

I can hardly breathe,

 and that is our job:
 to breathe.

To choose


by Jane Marla Robbins