Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "As a Model for Others"

This poem came out of the July 21, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by [personal profile] technoshaman. It also fills the "Rosa Parks Day -- December 1" square in my 7-1-15 card for the Winter Fest in July Bingo. This poem belongs to the Schrodinger's Heroes project.

"As a Model for Others"

TeJay knows that Eric's mind
is mostly on Christmas, and
that's okay as far as it goes.

He knows darn well
that doesn't go as far as it used to,
though, and TeJay feels a bit
responsible for that.

Eric's not the favored son
that he once was, on account of
taking the time to fix what he broke
when he jumped all over TeJay.

So now it's TeJay wanting
to give him a little something back,
show him a wider view of the world
than their bitty corner of Texas.

"The Ellis County Museum
is doing a special presentation
for Rosa Parks Day," says TeJay.
"You wanna come with me?"

"Rosa Parks," says Eric,
poking the tip of his tongue
out the corner of his mouth
like he does when he's thinking.
"She's the bus lady?"

Somebody else might've snapped
at him, but TeJay knows how much
hard work Eric has put into learning
all kinds of stuff he sure didn't
hear at home.

"Yeah, the one who wouldn't
give up her seat to a white man,"
TeJay says. "She's a great activist,
and a good role model too."

He knows that Eric's into
that sort of thing these days,
especially the human dignity stuff
that's come up in the search for
protests against torture.

"Sure, it sounds like a ball,"
Eric says easily.

Turns out there's a whole crowd
of folks from the Tef going to town for
the presentation, so it's simple enough
for TeJay and Eric to hitch a ride with them.

The museum puts on a good show,
with a professor of intercultural studies from
Southwestern Assemblies of God University
and a history teacher from Navarro College
each standing up to describe Rosa Parks
and her impact on American culture.

The only white person who didn't
come along with TeJay's bunch
is a nervous preppie kid with
long red dreadlocks, the frizzy kind
that white people have since
their hair won't lock up proper.

The redhead introduces himself
as Silly Reese over the snack table,
and before long they're talking about
the similarities and differences between
Irish indentured servants and black slaves --

and yeah, now that TeJay knows to look for it,
he can see how the kid's skin is that shade
TeJay's mama calls "creamed out" and is
maybe why he can get his hair to lock at all.

"Don't nobody belong stuck at the back
of the bus," Eric says. "Don't matter
who or why, it just ain't right."

"Oppression is just as ugly no matter
who's on top -- king of the dungheap ain't
much of a mountain," says Uncle Chris.
"Lord knows we've seen enough
to have learned that much."

"Like the Jews, they clumb out from under
the Nazis, then turned around and done
the same things to people in Palestine,"
says Eric, because you couldn't read up
on torture without hearing all about the mess
in the Middle East. "You'd think that they
of all people had ought to of knowed better."

"It's hard when you been kicked around
all your life, and you finally get free of it,
not to feel like kicking someone else
now you've got the chance," TeJay says.
Then he shakes his head. "But that's poison."

"So it is," Pat agrees. "I like what
Martin Luther King said about it:
I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear."

"I think my favorite quote of his is,
Love is the only force capable of
transforming an enemy into a friend,"

Eric says, looking at TeJay.

Silly Reese adds, "Then there's the one about
Life's most persistent and urgent question is,
'What are you doing for others?' "

"Which ties back into Rosa Parks Day,
because she said, Each person must
live their life as a model for others,"

Pat concludes with a nod.

"Yeah," said Eric, "I reckon
that's why we're all here tonight."

"Reckon so," TeJay agreed,
leaning against his friend.

* * *


"Each person must live their life as a model for others."
-- Rosa Parks

Read about the Ellis County Museum.

Rosa Parks Day honors a famous activist.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University offers Intercultural Studies.

Navarro College in Waxahachie presents various academic options including a lot of continuing education.

Dreadlocks are sections of hair in which the individual strands have felted together. Different types of hair respond differently in this fashion. In general, Afro-textured hair easily forms tight dreadlocks while Euro-textured hair is difficult or even impossible to lock and tends to produce looser, frizzier dreadlocks. People of mixed ancestry typically fall somewhere in between.

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Tags: activism, cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fishbowl, history, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, weblit, writing
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