The bridge

for John Lewis (1940-2020)

I think we now know
that when it comes
to founding myths
people of color
bore witness first
to that lesson of Midas
that you cannot eat gold

John Lewis had his skull
fractured by a state trooper
crossing a bridge over
the Alabama River
Dixie swung low
that Sunday
but there was no chariot
not yet
no ambulance
was sent
for the state could not
would not
lift a healing finger to repair
that man’s wound
or the heartbreak of any of
his kind
though Lewis the man
and his kin
were every bit as much of the Alabama soil
as anyone who paraded
under a veil of the Stars
and Bars
or wore hooded white in the hot night
claiming their own shit
don’t stink
that it fertilizes the red clay
making the great magnolias burst
resplendent emblem of a chivalrous society
of ‘deference’

Yes, people of color crossed that bridge first
Lewis in the lead showing how Love is not only
the vein running oxygen through our blood
but that it comes up a crop of scabs
crying wrath is a great harvest
if we should lose our patience
which somehow was something
this man never did for long.

Jeremy Nathan Marks lives in London, Ontario. New work is appearing this fall in So It Goes, The Journal of Expressive Writing, Unlikely Stories, Chiron Review, Boog City, Bewildering Stories, and Ginosko Review. Read other articles by Jeremy Nathan.