Saturday, February 20, 2016

How the Past Shackles the Present: April 4th

April 4th
by Laban Carrick Hill
Hate’s such a strong word, dear, mom
scolded when I expressed strong
distaste at little stones for supper, back
when Our Boys in the National Guard were
called into the streets, Memphis
burning, those people turning to
violence, polite conversation
rested on Their Own Sacrifice, I learned not
to say hate, so unbecoming, we wouldn’t
talk about hate a year later either
on the next April 4th when Grandfather
Joe died of emphysema, cirrhosis, dia-
betes, pneumonia, and Uncle
Melvin accused the nurse of
murder, because of that anniversary, because
of her being those, because of
Uncle Melvin believing her to be the
mother of the child murdered, only
weeks earlier, with Grandfather
Joe’s gun in his segregated
laundromat, now April
4th keeps coming around again and
again and 46 years later I sit at your
table, our new ardor tender and deli-
cate, and I am full of hate for those braised
Brussels sprouts laid out lifeless on
my plate, like the dead stones  pooled in grease
in my mother's kitchen so long ago,
and even though I know what’s
past can never truly be unpacked and worn
once again like a well-made suit of old clothes,
I still am unable to talk to you about this.


  1. "Hate is such a strong word, dear." Powerful.

  2. "The past can never truly be unpacked and worn once again like a well made suit of old clothes".... wow. this really resonates with me. thank you