after Federico García Lorca and Reverend Clementa Pinckney
The guards were so afraid, shuffling you along in handcuffs : the gun
to your head as they made you confess to the sins of beauty and
the conspiracy to be audacious in the face of a trembling, awkward boy
with a gun. Shoot and echo : shake.
Shoot and echo and shake the house of our worship : inky tree line, a wooden
fence, a stretch of field, field of yellow flowers : the perfect cut and arc
of the church windows--
green, purple, gold. Just yesterday you were green--
a green crazy with glorious birds. And then he reloaded. And they ran, right?
Who followed who on the road that runs away from brother killing
brother? Does that highway snake and twist us toward an answer--
what makes us who we are as a people and as a country?
You, rough grandfathers of the field, are gone and we are less without you.
We are left with sky and field, and in the sky of your red spirits let us each
find in us an act of love. Let us each look up and find a sanctuary, unlock
a cloud and open it : find in it an act of righteous indignation
: when they come to take you, get out of the car. Find a way to get out of the car
and run, because here is the terrible secret : the guards are not afraid at all.
Shake and echo and call.
N O T E S :
Several lines appear in Federico García Lorca’s “In Memoriam”: “yesterday you were green, a green crazy with glorious birds,” “rough grandfather[s] of the field,” and “the sky of [your] red spirit[s].”
The phrases “What makes us who we are as a people and as a country,” “find in us an act of love,” and “an act of righteous indignation” appear in a talk given by Reverend Pinckney at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina during the Civil Rights Ride, 2013.
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH