Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 4, Number 3, September 2010

Glenn G. Coats
Prospect, Virginia, USA


There Were Three Ships

shopping carts linger
around islands of produce
melting snow

Today the sun is shining and there is enough wind to push the swings a bit. It is a special day in Richmond with the first seat on every bus remaining empty to honor Rosa Parks. Everyone who rides today will take notice of the empty seat and see the signs that hang as a tribute to someone so brave.

winter wind
the last leaves
on the oak

Soon after lunch, my first student is waiting at the door for me, winter coat, hat, an armful of books. I unlock the door and she walks silently to the table. I tell Nancy that we will be reading about Sojourner Truth today and why today is a special day in Richmond. “What do you know about slavery?” I ask.

It is as if another person has stepped into Nancy’s skin. She is suddenly loud and talking like a kid on the street with an attitude, a chip on her shoulder. Nancy is on the street again, dancing for quarters under the bridge that crosses the James. She tells me the slaves came over with Columbus looking for better lives, she says their own people didn’t want them, and some worked hard and some didn’t. “They were in the north too you know,” Nancy almost shouts. The anger in her voice unnerves me and I wonder how to calm her down enough to guide her through the lesson, and I wonder where to begin, maybe with the Niña.

winter sun
her hair in tangles
from the sweat


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