Visible Man

Remembering Ralph Ellison

His hometown decided to honor him at last.

We had grown up six blocks from each other
but all those people who lived south of Tenth Street
were like ghosts to me.

The opposite of vampires, they appeared
to do yard work, clean houses, wash the cars or cook
during daylight hours.
Then faded into the shadows at night,

But there he was that night,
my dinner partner,
accompanied by his wife;
this courtly, gentle, kind teacher and writer
invisible no more.

Janet Taliaferro