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Published: 30-10-2019

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Racism, Redemption, Forgiveness and Hope in Minor Miracle, a Poem by Marilyn Nelson

“Minor Miracle” by Marilyn Nelson

“Minor Miracle” by Marilyn Nelson is a narrative poem about racism, redemption, forgiveness and hope. It tells a story about two friends who nearly got hit by a truck even though they are riding bikes with each other. Alternatively of apologizing, the driver casts racist slurs on them and drives off. Then, he comes back to apologize and drives off again. Also, the poem is entitled “Minor Miracle”, and in a way, it is an actual miracle of human compassion regardless of their skin colors.

Given that “Minor Miracle” is a totally free verse poem, it has no rhyme, meter, or any specific structure to it. Yet, the author takes us via the story in a chronological order with the use of vivid imagery and narrative methods such as dialogues and diction. The speaker is a single of the two cyclists and the listener can be any person in our society.

Nelson starts the poem with “Knock-on-wood” memory which means “some way in which you have been fortunate in the past (oxford dictionary). This prepares us for a story that might have some unsafe factors which the author has managed to escape and interests the readers. However, it is the resonant imagery that keeps us going.

They have been cycling in “a small Midwestern town” in “clear blue afternoon” which appears to be a extremely good, peaceful, ordinary day. Even so, when they come to a “4-way stop” and a truck drives previous them, almost hitting them, the problem happens. The way the author describes how they gossip while stopping or the car which practically hits them as “a rusty old choose-up truck” enables us to envision the really scene that is happening at that time like it is a living image in our head: The pals are obtaining a excellent time when a truck “hurricane past”, which indicates a powerful & deadly force. Then, she goes on to describe the man as a guy with “stringy, blonde hair with a lengthy fringe” and even with the detail of his cap as a “brand name beer cap.” Just with such specifics, the author currently draws in our thoughts a little picture of the truck driver, but leaves the judgement to the readers themselves because she does not point out his race, just a glimpse of his appearance. However, later on, after the insult incident, she gives us a descriptive image of the man who is “A tall, really considerably in shape young white guy slid out” with “greasy jeans, homemade finger tattoos, most likely a Marine Corps boot-camp footlockerful of martial arts techniques”. This is when his race is mentioned (white) and raises the concern of racism. Specifically, the word “footlockerful”, “martial arts techniques” emphasize a powerful, perhaps aggressive, male which fully contracts with the one particular who awkwardly pushes “dirt around with the pointed toe of his boot” whilst apologizing to them for his racist slur. Such description and word selection have transferred to the readers the emotion and the visual like we are there with the characters at that extremely moment.

Also, dialogue plays a important portion in expressing the emotion in the poem. The very very first dialogue in the poem is the racist insult from the driver to the cyclists “You fucking niggers.” This is a extremely essential piece of dialogue because with just three words, a individual could hurt the feelings of two other people, wound them, insult them just bcoz of their skin colour. However, the subsequent set of dialogue btwn the young white man and the two buddies has partly resolved the issue. His apology for his wrongdoing and the way he in fact feels embarrassed abt it (pushing dirt around with the pointed toe of his boot) tends to make us feel as if frequent human compassions does exist, that men and women do feel guilty and responsible for hurting others. The goal of the dialogue is to make us really feel what the narrator feels that day.

She leaves absolutely nothing out simply because she wants to emphasize the remaining hope btwn diverse races. The driver could have just left or the cyclists could have just been upset or reacted in an angry way since they have “made fists” when the drivers stop, the fists ready for what? Self-defense? Resistance? Rage? Or praying for no far more insults? . Though so, the way Nelson describe it entirely surprises the readers: from the awkward apology to the cyclist’ reaction as if nothing take place, as if it was just some minor incidents. And that is why it is miracle. They could have despised every single other, could have let the anger get and the greater of them, could have reacted the way they have been supposed to be, with rage and hatred or with worry and cowardice . However, with forgiveness and hope, they decide to pick a significantly harder decision: to coexist , to reside peacefully in hope of a better future with really like and kindness. And although such hope is so small, so weak, so minor like the minor miracle that has occurred, nonetheless it is sth to look forward to, to dream of and cherish. The title represents the which means of the whole poem.

Chronological order aids with the flow of the poem. The tension is steadily constructed up as the time from morning to noon. It aids the readers recognize the poem a lot more easily despite a surprise ending
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