Sunday, February 7, 2016

Irene Morgan (One Year Later)

If you saw my Facebook post last week, you'll know that after almost a year, I discovered that the Scripps College Journal had published one of my poems.  I had written it for Introduction to Creative Writing under the prompt: "Write about a historical figure."  At first I wanted to write about Rosa Parks, but then I discovered Irene Morgan, who had actually refused to give up her bus seat 10 years before Parks did.  I'm glad I was able to offer her at least a little more visibility through my writing, which I hope you'll enjoy here.

Irene Morgan

Spoiled meat sandwich in my hand,
Shuddering metal underneath my feet.
Black and white bodies shouldn't
Be in the same line of poetry, let alone
On the same old bus with tired blue rust.
It's what the law demands, yes?
Wait.  They keep trying to erase our side
Of the colored line, but our edges still grate.
"Lady!" the driver shouts at me.  He means bitch.
"Get outta that seat and go to the back!"
I see his puckered pink mouth,
His fat face ripe as a plum,
Yet he calls himself white?
I think I would rather release
My feet from the spine-snapping weight
Of wiping wet noses and stuffing
The mouths of my family like turkeys,
And of daily building green metal birds
Whose droppings can kill and win wars,
And of working underneath angry sunshine,
Picking white puffs spurting from their leaves,
And feeding them to the master's rolling machine.
I turn my eyes to the plum-faced bus driver.  I smile,
And in the same creamy, dripping voice I use when

Speaking to my children, I tell that driver he can just go to hell.

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