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.