And here's a poem from my trip home
to Alabama a year ago--

The river is spring-flooding the island, the water
makes a scalloped glubbing sound as it swims
past the drowning trees and thickets. A fishing
lure caught in the branches winks in the setting sun.
I’m glad I can still wink back. It’s so quiet except
for the jay, the wren, the gnat catcher, the unknown
warbler bird racket, I can hear my skull creak,
my knees crack getting down the mud bank
to the ford where the ferry once crossed over
carrying the settlers, the buyers and sellers of land,
the soldiers, the people in chains stolen to work.
There was the ferry here until there was a bridge,
and upstream a railroad trestle, the train screaming
as it moved mountains of coal dug up by miners
from Italy, Wales, Poland, Jews, Africans, convicts,
Bound to the crossroads of vertical and horizontal
necessity, did they say as I do every time the plane
lands me home in Alabama, whose country am I in?
In the airport CNN announced a massacre back
where I’d just come from. A white man said: A
foreigner. A white woman said, contradicting: He
just got laid off from IBM. Six hundred thousand
jobs lost in one month. The reporter said: What if all
thirty-seven million of them got together? I think
he meant the working class, as he euphemistically
warned of unrest. Yes, my restless bones climb
back up the gullied bank, through the old road, past
layers of stone, sediment, moss, I see in the loam
there is a little city of may-apple plants, spreading
green umbrellas to shelter their twinned flowers.
Overhead in the blue sky the clouds have multiplied
and gone to seed, drifting north on filament wisps.
I walk past the sign marking history, “Pratt’s Ferry,”
and back across the crumbling concrete bridge,
the setting sun shows me my shadow stretched far
back across the trembling water. In France the workers
have taken their bosses hostage, held some owners
in the factory office, stopped the chaffeured cars and
pressed their faces up against the glass, the silhouettes
look in, voilá, the shadows reverse the image of what-is.

Minnie Bruce Pratt

Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivs
Creative Commons 2010

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