Favorite Stories to Read Aloud [Poetry]

By Maggie Rosen

Carolina ghosts leave hooks in the car door,
Hitch a ride from the swamp, warn of hurricanes.
There are countless tales of the bobbing lights
that lovers see – in Brown Mountain,
but also near Wilmington where the signalman
looks for his head.

Then there are the stories of the black children
who integrated the schools.  They are not looking
for body parts in the marshes, nor singing
through the walls of the plantation.
They wore raw eggs to class, sat on thumb tacks,
ducked as the windshield shattered.
They sat with the Yankees and the pregnant kids,
They sang spirituals as low as they could.
They graduated alone from Greensboro High
and marched not to Selma, nor Washington,
but to a small sentence in the back of the fourth grade text.

Once and now there is Josephine Boyd: she smiles wryly
when she visits her old high school and they clap.
Her mother lost her job; somebody killed their two dogs.
The swamp girl had nothing on her
as she rode day after day on the school bus
and did not lose her arm
in the door, did not hover above the grave
folks promised would wait for her
if she dared to walk at graduation.
She was the first black graduate,
and the last one for 8 more years.
The graduation theme
was Be Yourself.
If you listen,
you can hear Dr. Boyd laughing.

 

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Maggie Rosen lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.   She grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Her poems have been published or are upcoming in Cider Press Review, RiverLit, Beltway Poetry Quarterly,  Education Week, Conclave, Blood Lotus, qarrtsiluni, Sow’s Ear,Minimus, and Plainsongs. Her chapbook, Carolina Theatre, was a semifinalist in the 2014 Sundress Chapbook Competition.