On the Cover of the Sun —December 2007, Issue 384 I. Her eyes, shut in shadows; her face, lit with a warm glow of heaven, prayers in her hair, soft white petals around her head cradled in coffin-black. She seemed at peace. Six-year old little girls should always have a boisterous peace. For a moment, I closed my eyes to hear, to feel the texture of silence on her lovely black face. II. Four little girls in a Birmingham church. Their smiles slashed with bloodstained glass. Even Christ’s face was blown out in the blast, the only pane remaining was the image of The Shepherd leading His children away to a safe place with the late morning sun in their eyes, glinting on the broken glass. III. I have walked on the shards of my own bigotry. Scraped them off the black sole of my shoe. Burned them to microscopic pieces of ash. Buried them deep in the ground. Grew daffodils and daisies to cleanse the air. Yet the flowers were strangled. IV. The photograph spilled all its shades, white light couched in black. I read the note inside the magazine cover expecting an obituary, a reason for the death, my heart ready to shudder, to shatter. Then it stopped, searching for breath when I finished reading. V. The little girl was not dead, but merely dancing for her grandmother with her eyes shut. Still, I wept.
And All that Jazz After Langston Hughes Hotdogs-and-Hamburgers from a street corner van— a food truck concession on a hot Chicago day. Another one venting white smoke and sizzle, serving up a bunch of catfish-are-jumpin’ hushpuppies and battered-up whiting with a red pepper punch to the palate, and malt vinegar doused on salted fries shaken free from hot peanut oil. Summer folk all lined-up in the lazy-hazy city air. No politics. Just grace before the meal. My Baby and I on a blanket lakeside —picnic with a breeze— just chillin’ with country fried chicken and corn-on-the-cob and grandma’s three-bean salad and sweet potato pie and watermelon. Wash it all down with a glass of ice tea and some sweet lemonade and all that jazz syncopating the summer day.