It’s Bigger Than This

371 total words    

1 minutes of reading

The last token to catch
the only bus that will
get you there on time
for your paycheck to see
you through two more weeks
amassing tokens just for change.

“It’s bigger than this. I spoke too soon.”

Coretta says to Martin, “Get up!
Rosa’s left a seat right next to her,” and
Demurely she’s waiting rubbing red dust
from reading glasses while the Southern bus
driver spits shears through the rear view
imagining bleeding brown moles on her face.

“It’s bigger than this. I spoke too soon.”

Garvey tells Harriet to tell Sojourner
that she’s a woman too cause
he was marveling at how easy
it is to cross moving waters not knowing
how deep but trusting that if you rejoin
your pupils to the northern stars callused
souls over cracked feet find substance underneath.

“It’s bigger than this. I spoke too soon.”

Crispus Attucks in James’ town, twenty
Africans as Dutch as a slave’s a ship,
Nat Turner burns fire in a Virginia cave,
Harriet’s narcoleptic vision makes water moccasins
meek, Sally sails a master’s mission to Paris,
and Chapman-Catt tells Frederick Douglass
“only for those who qualify.”

“It’s bigger than this. I spoke too soon.”

Lincoln’s thinking drinking while wanting Confederate cash,
Emmett Till’s swinging to Count Basie in a Holiday hash,
Fannie Lou Hamer has lost her eye holding it in the right
hand, Carver eats in the bachelor’s basement, dorms in a closet,
takes notes outside through a slightly opened pained
stained class glass window, and Booker T. will have
him crossing corn for the Christ in us all.

“It’s bigger than this. I spoke too soon.”

Monday morning finds you trying your tokens for
change, James Meredith saves you a seat and a crazy
man’s up front telling driver Barnett that he wants
off at the next stop, and you show your tokens for
change, various diplomas in tow, and the driver takes
your tokens but offers no change, and the crazy man
pulls out his, asks for Alex Haley and hurriedly
says as he strides off the bus toward the Audubon Ballroom,

“It’s bigger than this. I’ve spoken too soon.

I’ve been with you. I’ve trained you,
and I know what you can do.”

  • Taiyon J. Coleman

    Taiyon J. Coleman is a poet, essayist, and educator. She is Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her poetry and essays have appeared in numerous collections and magazines.

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