Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Road From Selma

This powerful poem, written by June Brindel in 1965, was posted on Women Writing Birmingham on March 7, 2015,  the 50th anniversary Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama.

THE ROAD FROM SELMA                                                                        June Brindel
The road from Selma stretches in the rain
white as a shroud, rimmed with stiff troopers.
The marchers stand bowed, hands joined, swaying gently
their soft strong song stilled.
Then up from a Birmingham bed
rises a gentle Boston man, Jim Reeb,
steps softly back to Selma
and moves among the stilled marchers.
The troopers stir, link arms,
close ranks across the road
stretching from Selma in the rain
white as a shroud.
The Boston man, Jim Reeb, walks toward the troopers
and they straighten and stand guard tight as death.
But someone moves behind them, waves his hand.
“That you, Jackson?” Jim Reeb peers ahead.
“That’s right, Reverend. Come on through.”
The troopers tighten guard, straight as death
But Jim Reeb doesn’t stop.
He goes on through,
right through the stiff ranked troopers
white as a shroud
rimming the road from Selma.
And Jimmie Lee Jackson takes him by the arm
and they march down the road to the courthouse.
Over in Mississippi Medgar Evers stands,
three young men rise up from a dam in Neshoba County
and they all go down the road
and walk right through the tight stiff trooper line
and down the road from Selma.
And from all over there’s a stirring sound.
Emmett Till jumps up and runs laughing like any boy
through the stiff white rim.
Four small girls skip out of a church in Birmingham
and the tall old man in Springfield gets up
and goes to Selma.
And down from every lynching tree
and up from every hidden grave
come men, women, children, heads carried high,
passing a moment among the bowed, stilled troopers
and down the white road from Selma.
Until the age long road is packed
black with marchers streaming to the courthouse.
And the bowed stilled group in Selma
raise their heads, hands joined,
swaying gently, in soft strong song
that goes right through the stiff ranked troopers
white as a shroud
barring the road from Selma.
Copyright © 1965 June Brindel.


Joanne Cage said...

Isn't this wonderful! I love this poem. On that day, my young colored maid was ironing and I was cooking, and we were listening to the radio and singing "we shall overcome!"

Ramey Channell said...

Hi, Joanne. Yes, this is such an amazing poem. I kept coming back to the date; it was written in 1965, in the heat of the moment rather than in retrospect. What a tragic mess this country was in and is in.