The Show

by Courtney L. Clements

Setting: A bright, sunny Sunday afternoon 
on a bridge over the summer waters of Georgia

"Hurry! Hurry! Squeeze right in
Come one; come all. The show is about to begin."
The scared, sweaty, young Black man is led
By two White men to the bridge's edge.
Like a ringmaster under a circus tent,
The loud White man is shouting, but this is no happy event.
The lighter crowd gathers in closer still
Waiting for the chance to see such a thrill.
"Come on fellas!" shouts the loud White man to the men
Leading the young Black man.
"Get that knot tied!" Make that noose!
We've done this before; you all know what to do."
As the lighter crowd grows steadily bigger,
So too does a crowd standing a few feet away.
But this crowd is composed of Negroes,
And to them, this is no happy day.
The lighter crowd looks on with glee
As the loud White man proclaims
The following event to be a winner:
"You folks'll have somethin' to talk about over Sunday dinner."
This crowd is so excited, the women still in their Sunday attire,
And the men raising the children upon their shoulders-
The view is much better if you're sitting up-higher.
The red smiles on the pale faces of the women
In the lighter crowd look like little slits
As their mouths stretch back to bare snarling
Teeth that take delight in the fact that
An innocent man is about to be hanged.
The men's evil thirsts make their
Faces old and worn no matter how young.
The darker crowd is not nearly as enthused
At what is about to occur.
In respect, this crowd parts as it
Quietly watches her.
She too is in her Sunday best.
She's been in church all day
Praying for her child who is
About to be unjustly taken away.
Her thick gray hair is in one simple braid
Wrapped around her head
And under the simple hat that she herself made.
It's Sunday, and she too is in her best.
In one hand, she clenches a cross made of wood.
In the other, she holds the Bible because its Word is good.
She makes her way through the solemn darker crowd.
And now, the lighter ones are not laughing and yelling out loud
For they too have noticed the young Black man's
Mother has now joined the show.
And perhaps, united, that crowd, for one moment,
Held one miniscule amount of humanity,
Because as her tears began to flow,
Even the lighter crowd held their heads low.
Perhaps it was their embarrassment that wouldn't
Allow their eyes to meet hers.
Nevertheless, they spoke not a word.
The loud White man didn't hold his peace for long at all,
And it wasn't a minute before he resumed his call
To the men to make sure the rope was tight
As they placed it over the young Black man's head.
The young Black man's mother stood in the front
Of the darker crowd, her face encased in dread.
She made eye contact with her son and he with her.
Then, her vision became a blur
As the tears made their way down her cheeks.
She stood steadfast though her legs grew weak.
Both crowds now focused on the loud White man and his invocation
As he summoned for the preacher to come and offer a prayer of salvation.
The prayer now said-
The noose over his head-
And with one push, the young Black man was dead.
Gasps arose from the crowds simultaneously.
His body swung back and forth slowly in the summer breeze.
For two clear minutes, the only sound heard was the hum of mosquitoes,
The two crowds trapped in a silence that time itself froze.
But as quickly as it came, the silence did break
As a child in the lighter crowd laughed
When the young Black man's bowels loosed and slithered into the lake.
In one shrill cry louder than the banshee's shriek,
The old Black mother expressed all that she could not speak.
The splash of the water was followed by a short "spelunk."
The last thing her eyes saw was a rotted old tree trunk.
The sweet lilac dress, now dark purple in color
As the water surrounded the old Black mother.
The dark balloon of a dress now rippled softly in the water,
In its midst, an old gray head.
Her Bible sank to the bottom landing open
As if by invisible hands being read.
Her wooden cross floated nearby.
In one of the crowds, a woman did cry
As the cool summer water slowly rocked the thick gray braid
Softly unraveling it under the hat that she herself made.

The Showby Courtney L. Clements

© Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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