Movement’s mother

(inspired by Septima Clark, on what would have been her 120th birthday. Written for the dedication of her historical marker)

There are spirits
among us –
ghosts of grassroots movements
echoing through our soil.

Charleston’s poinsettia
was a warrior woman
who blossomed
despite an unholy city’s
unsettled winds.

She was light
through dark matter,
a sunflower
through storms,
a teacher
of feminism and freedom
with lessons
overstepping limitations
for a nation
that needed to move forward.

was not an option.

There’s a song among us.
An out-of-tune harmony
written by deep-rooted pain
with racism’s wretched refrain.

a daughter of the Lowcountry
became the conductor
of change –
clearing the air
for a chorus
of beautiful black voices.

Because silence
was not an option.

There’s still worry within us.
Tireless activists have died
running marathons
with worn-out tears,
weary with fear,
blinded by lies.

But we can look
through the visionary eyes
of Septima Clark.

who taught giants
how to be tall.

who humbly rose so high
that heavenly elevation
is normalized.

Falling down
is no longer an option.