The rains came and turned the skies pearl gray, and the
grass crunched like shreds of green coconut and thunder crunched like candy in
yellow lavender and pink, and he braced his boot against the bathtub side, and
he steadied, and chips of lead paint crunched under his boot, and he steadied,
and the backfire slammed the shotgun in his cheek and crunched the bone, and a man who spoke the way thunder crunches
fell down in the green coconut grass by the riverside and blood crunched out
and ran until it stopped, and the man who fired the shot crunched out a
cigarette and ran until they stopped him, and they drove the man to jail
crunched down and everything turned black or white except the pearl gray skies when the
April 1968, Sunday School, Lutheran Redeemer Church: I’m making a pen and
pencil holder, for Jesus, with crayons and Popsicle sticks and an old can, and upstairs
there’s a meetin’ going on, a new proposal’s on the table and when they heard
it, they all said ha-rumph and one of them said, I don’t know—Bill (or Bob)
what do you think, and Bob (or Bill) didn’t know either because the proposal
was so new it was like a bluff called, and all the
white elders and the white deacons didn’t know what to think about the first
black family joining Lutheran Redeemer Church so they all ha-rumphed and in
Sunday School I finished coloring my Popsicle sticks and glued them on the can.
My dad said the white man standing in the bathtub killed the black man by the river because he didn’t like the color of his skin, but I was four and colors came in boxes with crayon sharpeners on the back; everything was black or white back then in Memphis, TN, words like "prejudice" and "hypocrites" crackled in the air like a green wood fire and I imagine, had the time come for my dad like it did for Dr King, back then some well-intentioned relative might have said, God took your daddy back to live with him, everything happens according to God's plan.
But after awhile, we stopped going to Lutheran Redeemer Church; God couldn’t stop the man who spoke the way the thunder crunches, from falling by the riverside that day; after awhile, we stopped going to Lutheran Redeemer Church so I gave the pen and pencil holder I made in Sunday School, for Jesus, to my dad, and everything was black or white that Spring in Memphis, TN, except the pearl gray skies when the rains came.