This Really Does Matter

A few years ago – while living in the South – I became aware of a new holiday. I went to get a document signed for my son at the state-run immunization clinic. The clinic was closed on a Monday in late April. Later that day, when we didn’t get any mail, I asked what was going on. It was Confederate Memorial Day.

Tragic events over the past year from Ferguson to Texas to New York and beyond coupled with a road trip that included a series of civil rights stops reminded me of a poem that I wrote shortly after learning about Confederate Memorial Day. I invite you to think about it.

April 26

A boy mows the field next to the
Senior Center: offices locked.
Blue bars and stars decorate
signs out front.

Southern mists rise, pulling names
from graves - a haunting -
families foraged from left over
people who did not foresee faults.

Collards and black-eyed peas glance
at luck; chicken and dumplings
bridge only religion - not
race.

Those keys are kept 
in generational vaults - 
though quick acquaintance
can be had over pond seining - 
fish fries - or moonshine.

They won't look, but fingers crossed and
casseroles cover wounds and scars
built in eternity.

There is no end.

His grandfather is buried at Mr. Elam's 
feet - there's a rub that cannot
be dug up.

Recollected history means more
on this day than textbooks
and undiluted sweet tea memories
float up Freeman Harris Road.

This is more than we think it is.

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