Poetry Friday roundup is at Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone. She has me thinking about an Artist’s Prayer. Her photos are stunning as is her words.
An email from American Academy of Poets Educator Newsletter arrived in my mailbox today. It has several offerings for Black History Month. I discovered this one by Marilyn Nelson. Fitting as we are in the midst of vaccinations.
Blue and White Orlon Snowflake Sweater, Blue Snowpants, Red Galoshes
—Smoky Hill AFB, Kansas, 1955
Somebody took a picture of a class
standing in line to get polio shots,
and published it in the Weekly Reader.
We stood like that today. And it did hurt.
Mrs. Liebel said we were Making History,
but all I did was sqwunch up my eyes and wince.
Making History takes more than standing in line
believing little white lies about pain.
Mama says First Negroes are History:
First Negro Telephone Operator,
First Negro Opera Singer At The Met,
First Negro Pilots, First Supreme Court Judge.
That lady in Montgomery just became a First
by sqwunching up her eyes and sitting there.
Copyright © 2014 by Marilyn Nelson. From Beloit Poetry Journal, Split This Rock Edition. Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.
2/12/2021 01:21:03 pm
It's a powerful poem statement, Jone, wishing that here in the 21st century we were still not having "firsts", but glad for them anyway! I don't remember getting the shot but do remember spending summers without swimming!
Alan j Wright
2/12/2021 04:14:45 pm
This is a powerful poem Jone. It is a poem documenting history, which ironically I based my post for this week on. There is in these words much in the way of prompting thought and memory. Thank you for bringing Marilyn Nelson's poem to our attention.
2/12/2021 07:55:28 pm
Jone, the poem you chose is quite a good one for now. As a little girl, I also remembered standing in the school line waiting for the polio shot. Then, remembered that one of my classmates got polio and we visited him. It was so sad huddling around his bed. "Making History takes more than standing in line
Kay Jernigan McGriff
2/13/2021 07:01:35 am
Yes, this is a powerful poem. Thank you for sharing it. I am glad for those willing to go first and lead the way, even those not recognized by history.
2/13/2021 02:00:24 pm
Such an amazing poem with the image of Rosa Parks scrunching up her eyes in the mind of a girl getting a Polio vaccine. Lovely. I'm a fan of Marilyn Nelson and have several of her books for kids.
2/13/2021 07:04:39 pm
Jone, thank you for sharing Marylin Nelson's powerful poem. Her poems are always excellent. I agree with Carol "Making History takes more than standing in line/believing little white lies about pain." is a great line. I'm not sure what vaccination I was receiving, but I do remember waiting in a crowed line too long and hearing crying kids.
2/14/2021 05:23:45 am
Jone, this poem is such a great choice. Like so many others, I especially appreciate the line about "making history." This has me pondering the difference between making history and living history.
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