Volume 32, Number 3

Remembering Emmet Till

Let me peer out at the world through your lens.…
Let me see how your blue is my turquoise 
and my orange is your gold.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Decades drift by—life a crowded stream.
Memories, like ripples, dissipate—
sights and sounds, smells and touch, deleted   
so not to overwhelm with too much recollection.  

We age—revisit erased images.
I see meaning now, in fields of cotton—
bolls nestled in dried bracts, sharp as razor blades,
harvested by bare fingers 

The air heavy with restraint, as silent men,
hats in hand, followed local protocol,
stood off in roadside ditches 
until our car passed by. 

This girl from somewhere in the North 
—intrigued by a world she didn’t know—
tried to socialize with those
expected to keep their distance.   

I recall the look on Big Sam’s face 
when I showed up behind the main house
where he was cooking catfish in an iron kettle 
and I, unknowing, broke the silent code, 
asked him friendly questions. 

Now I know 
that look 
was fear.    

—Patricia Williams