A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
We’re hanging out in Greenwood
for the weekend, and while reading
in Turnrow Books I hear the bbbrrrrmmmm
of drums. It’s the Amanda Elzy High School
homecoming parade, 98%
African American, the bookstore owner
says, and he says the schools are so poor
they took their kids and moved to Grenada.
From the curb we watch the parade, my husband
and I—the sequined dancers twirling
lackadaisically, the bright gold tubas
and rows and rows of coordinated drums,
especially one chubby boy not in uniform
who hugs his drum like a bear and pounds it
so hard his whole body shakes. Miss Anatomy
and Physiology, Miss Life Skills,
Miss Business Sense, Miss Physical Processes,
and all the other girls including one
whose sign says First Alternate, ride
on the roofs of cars, legs stretched out or tucked
through sunroofs—they are dolled up in tiaras,
in ruffled chiffon or satin ballgowns,
and mostly they don’t acknowledge our presence,
but a few smile the beauty queen smile,
and wave the beauty queen wave. Little brothers
and sisters, shadowy in back seats,
press their faces against the windows.
Each girl has an escort beside her on the roof.
Most are cast in shadow by their resplendent
partners, but one guy dressed in white
from hat to suit to spotless shoes,
whose partner is a matronly girl in coral,
lounges diagonally across the hood
of a slowly growling Chevy, perfectly
motionless, claiming the day, cocked
on an elbow like the Sheik of Araby.
Copyright 2015 Ann Fisher-Wirth
Jackson State University’s “The Sonic Boom of the South” marches during the school’s homecoming parade.
(Photo: Greg Jenson/The Clarion-Ledger)