Shelby Stephenson

            for Lee Terry

Lee never lifted the veil which I knew
He could; out of slavery, he’d come there,
To stand out beyond what held him from me,
One white boy, though I felt he knew no Fear,
To say to Mister Paul, “Sir, I need more –
Work – so I can buy some meat at the store.”

I was background, too, a boy who saw Lee,
Without desire to watch, tighten his lips
And lift a stick of tied and green weed free
Of the tobacco-burners – lugs or tips –
With one right hand he’d poke straight out the sticks,
One after another – he moved his feet
Around mountains in the barns, as eerie
Sounds, for truth, among Spirits, set each beat.

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