Steps


I awake to the rumbling of the earth
as the train outside the window soars by.
A Sunday morning in Little Rock, my grandfather's home,
where the hazy sunrise greets me with threats and the grass outside
threatens my bare feet with greetings from fallen acorns.
We take a walk, my brother and I, around the neighborhood.
What we don't know are steps taken before us on the same sidewalks
by people fearing change, military boots, and nine kids our age.
Change, I say to my brother, is scary,
but it is what keeps the river flowing in the winter time.
We walk until we meet a flock of trees, silent,
whispering the secrets of the past. Around them are the ghosts of
those who lost their innocence by the harshness of society
and the shadows of those too afraid to stand tall like the trees.
The train, I think, still rumbles in memory of the event
that shook the foundations of this city.
Feeling the wind rustling the trees, we are unfazed.
School to us meant only deadlines, class work, and getting out.
School to the Little Rock Nine meant lines of people dead in spirit,
work for change by all classes, and staying another day.
As we walk, the neighborhood rises with the sun, faces of all shades,
different goals, but with the same driveways and houses.
The purpose of our steps aren't seen until generations later
when children of all races recognize the gift of their present.
My brother and I return home, years too young, never off course
the Nine's path.

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