16 June 2010


This poem was inspired by this image of Elizabeth Eckford at Arkansas Central High School in 1957:

Desegregate 6/16

In the picture she's holding her books close to her chest
her skirt is plaid they are all open teeth and snarling
snaking strands of saliva their eyes tearing themselves
from the heads

She's walking quickly in the photo but with her head up
her face is stone but you can see behind them a scream
broken wings beating her body she is a bandaged sparrow

Are there chains on everything around her the barricades
barely do their job the police are crossed arms and hats
batons pocketed hoses out and watching the stream of
children flowing

River of stone faces rush the walk brown faces moving
through white frozen water in a fading photo but there
she is skirt in the breeze moving she is walking and she
holds her books close