Memory of my Father and sharing a post about Ferguson, Missouri

I want to share a post from Devoree Crist, who lives a few miles from Ferguson, Missouri, as she reflects on what has happened in the wake of Michael Brown’s death and the continuing legacy of violence. Read her post here

Her words made me remember.

Memory of my Father

Russ would be a hundred
if he were alive.

He saw a lynching,
when he was a little boy in Missouri —
small town, coal mines nearby,
and his folks ran the general store.

They told the children one night,
“some men gonna ride.”
Good people locked their doors
turned out the lights,
stayed quiet.

Russ was that age,
when a boy wants to know
what’s happening,
so he climbed out an upstairs window,
hid in a tree to watch.

They burned the schoolhouse
with a black man tied to the roof.
Somebody said
he was the school teacher’s lover,
and she left town the next day.

In the Depression the store failed
and they moved north to Iowa,
but Russ remembered
and he wasn’t a watcher
when Civil Rights came along.

And I remember
that when he was old
and alzheimer’s rode his nights,
he would dream and cry.

Russ didn’t live long enough
to hear about Ferguson,
but I do not think he is resting
quiet.

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3 Responses to Memory of my Father and sharing a post about Ferguson, Missouri

  1. A fine poem about Russ. I remember how strong his spirit was,for justice, how that fire still lifted him, when the Alzheimers had taken away much else. I think it may have been those memories in him that made him so supportive of my preaching, he wanted to hear the shadows that haunt the world in sermons, not just sweet light talks. And hw probably would be on a train bound for Ferguson now, if he were still here. And maybe he is there, with them.

  2. Maren says:

    He did love your preaching! And yes that little town of Prairie Hill, not far from Ferguson is where he would be.

  3. rezrevres says:

    This is a powerful and a deeply moving piece. It spawns a lot of reflection, and I suppose I might say soul-searching on my part. Let me confess that in another life I was a “cop”, and perhaps one never forgets the kind of gut-wrenching learning that occurs in that profession. Please don’t misunderstand, for I’m certainly not trying to act as an apologist for cops in general, and most particularly not for the ones who with appropriate psychological screening would never be allowed to carry a badge much less a firearm. I was also a member of a visible minority at a time when we were a rarity, so I’m well aware of the bigoted asses that attempt to find a rationale for the hatred in the uniform. That said and sincerely meant, I also recall the shear terror that accompanied some of the split second decision-making that was routinely required on virtually every shift. All of the injustices and inequities that society refuses to adequately address much less productively answer, we place in the hands of our police to deal with on a case by case basis – and sometimes it goes horribly wrong. It’s really a pity that no one wants to talk about all the far more numerous times that some tired and scared cop manages to get it right. Just to outline the other side of the coin.

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