Poor House Road Taken
for Clifton Walker, 1964
Two roads led west to Woodville,
and that night I studied on them both,
my mind fixed on getting home from the mill.
I looked down one that spilled out from the hill
to where it bent in the undergrowth,
then took the shortcut, which was just as fair,
Folk warned me that the Klan had staked their claim,
but I slipped through quiet-like and wondered where
when down the dirt stretch I seen them there
and knew my life would never be the same.
Come sunlight folk found me where I lay
and sent word to my Ruby to dress in black.
No, for me there would not be another day!
Still I weighed what led me on this way––
and wished that somehow I could have turned back.
My last word drifted out like a sigh;
taking a man from his family didn't make no sense.
Two roads led west to Woodville, and I––
I took the risk not knowing I would die.
To them my life made no difference.
200 The Paris-American
Lolita Stewart-White is a Cave Canem Fellow and a Pushcart nominee. She was a semi-finalist for the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize and the Rattle Poetry Contest. Lolita was also a Sundance Screenwriters Intensive Fellow and the winner of ‘Pitch Miami’ sponsored by the Women’s International Film Festival for her screenplay ‘All-American.’ Her writing has appeared in the Iowa Review, Callaloo, Brilliant Corners, Kweli and many others. She lives in Miami with her husband and seven-year-old daughter, Lola.
Next week's poet: