Entire-McCauley-Family-with-Rosa-Parks-at-the-house-S-Deacon-St-1972-copyright-McCauley-Family-931x1024

2672 South Deacon Street, Detroit

in Identity/U.S. by

Rickety wood box of a house
Two stories with a pitched roof
White bottom, black top, peeling
Paint, straight out flat the shipping
Crate, set right up on hard bare ground.
(No disrespect) in strange Berlin.

Why? Some mover opened these doors.
Some shaker trod these floors,
Traced these stairs, leaned against these walls
(Never in despair?) from hours
Hunting a bit of work. Life trickles
On. With or without a name.

Montgomery, Hampton, Detroit—even fame
Traveled on, after fingerprints, bail, no job—strife
Unearned, hate mail, threats—after boycott there’s life.
Pulled/pushed, never untouched, she found herself,
Hubby by her side, at brother’s door.
This same door—not ramshackle then. Poor.

“Home is where they have to take you in.”
How many children underfoot? Fifteen!
A little peace with those who knew her when.
Recipes by heart. Griddle cakes, apple butter.
Chicken with dumplings, blueberry cobbler.
Piece work in the basement. Two years. Then gone.

Some say death comes in threes. Then a fourth.
Children birth themselves and leave the hearth.
Simple things. Despite a fabled kinswoman.
Did she ever own? Not even this
One precious home? Put under glass.
This refugee, of a sort. This haven.

 


READ MORE

Why we need Black History Month [Seattle Times]
The history of Rosa Parks’ house is the history of redlining [Next City]
Auctioneer: Rosa Parks house tied to Detroit has buyers [Detroit Free Press]


First poetry editor of two pioneer feminist magazines, Aphra and Ms., Yvonne (aka Yvonne Chism-Peace) has received several awards including NEAs for poetry (1974, 1984) and a Leeway for fiction (2003). Anthologies and annuals featuring her poems include: Bosque Press #8, Quiet Diamonds 2018 (Orchard Street), 161 One-Minute Monologues from Literature (Smith and Kraus), This Sporting Life (Milkweed), Bless Me, Father: Stories of Catholic Childhood (Plume), Catholic Girls (Plume/Penguin), Tangled Vines (HBJ), Celebrations: A New Anthology of Black American Poetry (Follett), Pushcart Prize Anthology, and We Become New (Bantam).

Image of Rosa Parks and family at home, courtesy of the McCauley family.