Tuesday, September 25, 2007

For the Little Rock Nine

Hard to believe it's been 50 years . . .

Soul Make A Path Through Shouting

for Elizabeth Eckford
Little Rock, Arkansas, 1957

Thick at the schoolgate are the ones
Rage has twisted
Into minotaurs, harpies
Relentlessly swift;
So you must walk past the pincers,
The swaying horns,
Sister, sister,
Straight through the gusts
Of fear and fury,
Straight through:
Where are you going?

I’m just going to school.

Here we go to meet
The hydra-headed day,
Here we go to meet
The maelstrom —

Can my voice be an angel-on-the-spot,
An amen corner?
Can my voice take you there,
Gallant girl with a notebook,
Up, up from the shadows of gallows trees
To the other shore:
A globe bathed in light,
A chalkboard blooming with equations —

I have never seen the likes of you,
Pioneer in dark glasses:
You won’t show the mob your eyes,
But I know your gaze,
Steady-on-the-North-Star, burning —

With their jerry-rigged faith,
Their spear on the American flag,
How could they dare to believe
You’re someone sacred?:
Nigger, burr-headed girl,
Where are you going?

I’m just going to school.

-- by Cyrus Cassells

from Soul Make A Path Through Shouting by Cyrus Cassells, published by Copper Canyon Press. Copyright © 1994


gemellen said...

this is wonderful. my father was a white senior at LRCH during that fateful year. (& i attended the same high school in the late 80s.) i am so glad it has never been forgotten. they were such brave warriors.

Peter said...

gemellen: I'm sure you/he could tell some great stories from those days.