The Closing of Mary McLeod Bethune

By Kara Trojan

Were you alive when the
bricks began to crumble
beneath our hand-held, picket line
across the parking lot in front of some
school that no one bothered to name?

Our mumbled whispers
that tapered ladders on gargantuan gadflies as the summer heat
etched the tear lines into mud tracks against
our ruddied faces.

Cohorts torn into flip stands
layered toward standing political sores —
tell me how to cross my t’s and fill in scantron circles before
the suits step over brown-bag lunches
to stretch the yawning yellow tape over the students’ lockers.

We were strung up the flag pole, almost posted as decapitated heads for the public.

The political analysts call this “The biggest school closing in decades.”

Under teeming hammer-strikes :
glasses shred to paper-splinters
before a young boy’s diploma
crying white chalk bricks
from university’s doors instead on to
prison yard orange jumpsuits.

Can we call this a school improvement project
or can we call this the Same Salem Witch Hunt
As unwashed teachers and students alike deck the sidewalks like
Either Christmas decorations on Michigan Avenue or
Inmates on the gallows platform

I’m completely unable to read the television marquee that told the neigh- borhood that City Hall was too stuffed with paperwork to defend the moth-
ers and invisible fathers.

I’m completely unable to write out of respect for these children’s already- carved in stone pathway to the gutter, graveyard, and/or prisons.

In the first wink of dawn
We will all scatter
To our respective positions
Carved out in concrete before the basketball court.