College was not an option.
It was a where, not an if.
The really smart kids began
thinking about it at birth.
What was the sound of a black child
telling his or her parents they wanted to take a year off
in order to find themselves?
You don’t want to know.
My hometown was, as my mother liked to say —
a big/small Southern place where
conservative dreams were allowed.
And then there was Tommy —
who received a scholarship to a college in Maine.
We knew it existed — where it was —
and where it wasn’t.
When he said yes…
fear and lower case optimism blossomed.
He was our Jackie Robinson —
they even prayed for him at church.
But he fell like maple leaves in September.
No one knew why.
Everyone knew why.
I could smell the pain.
About a week after he returned home,
he entered the barbershop.
What is the sound of a black boy
felled by the Great White North?
Even the electric clippers
When Garrett joked with
Tommy about the blue fortunes of his beloved Dallas Cowboys-
He burst into tears and muttered-
“I thought you all would make fun of me”
“You are next” — Garrett replied.