Reminded July ’16 of Not a Particularly Big Event in Maryland, Mid-60’s
Their old school was Sojourner Truth, which, back then, could not be for any kids but black, the new school built between a patched-shack road and an almost spanking white subdivision, with a wavy-lined mosaic down one side. Me with my long blonde hair always tried
to be nice to everyone, though all the blacks in my class were boys, and girls age 8 didn’t play much with any boys back then, till one day
they followed me home, Kevin, class clown of chocolate brown, face up-curved as if even
his nose smiled, and Earl, who was the darkest person I’d ever seen, stretched thin, his sometimes grin almost more beautiful than Kevin’s against
his blue-black skin, and a couple of soft-cheeked others,
and Kevin danced away my hair brush from my bag–its plastic handle long broken so it was just
a bristle head–and Earl, palming it, brushed his nap, and by then, we were on the front lawn of my next door neighbor, and I was afraid–they were so very alive in the middle of that still, mown lawn, half-under
its short magnolia–it felt as if a cloud had descended upon us, making us move
in slow-mo, as if clouds were not just vapor, but deep sea
and I said, from my side of the brush’s keep-away, you’ve got to go home, really you better get out of here, Kevin, and his smile dropped as Earl too dropped
my hair brush, and, after they turned, I picked it up, pretty certain I’d never use it again, redly embarrassed by that,
as I watched their backs get smaller up the street, where the sloped curbs also watched them, even the bits of sand and grit in the sloped curbs watched them–though at least the sand and grit were perfectly open about it–not like the eyes in the windows–
A drafty sort of piece for Brendan MacOdrum’s (Blue Oran’s) wonderful prompt on Real Toads about finding some depth in the shallows (and doing it briefly). I don’t know that this qualifies as deep and it’s certainly not brief but it is the poem that came to mind for me; again I hope that I am conveying here the inchoate fear I felt for my friends, the boys, at that time, when honestly, I didn’t know that much of what was going on in the greater world.
Also note that the image is mine, based on a collage (made rather clumsily on the iPhone) of some street graffiti, a beautiful and agonizing picture of civil rights demonstrators being fire-hosed in Birmingham, Alabama in the mid-60’s (taken by Bob Adelman) and a picture of the American flag on the Moon (I am guessing that photographer was Neil Armstrong). The picture is not in any way meant to be blase or detrimental to the suffering of any one, particularly not the Birmingham protestors and certainly not of any one now, but just one I could make from the images I had. All rights in the collage (such as I have) are reserved.