THE SOUTH CAROLINA HOME FOR THE FEEBLE-MINDED,
The streetlights skin
what they light
on. Thumbprints on the paving bricks
go all silvery and faint, these prints
of the slaves, the makers, who pulled
the huge bricks from the Home's kiln.
And in the barn they bedded down
in silage made warm by their bodies.
The smell of the bear grease they
had rubbed on their wounds hovering
over their dreams of driving a team
of Belgians up to the Promised Land,
past where the Home's high brick wall
serpentined briefly and where they
were ankle-chained on Sunday nights.
To a sandy patch called The Whipping Pit.
The riders came down Lady, the sun
setting behind them as if they'd slain
Apollo and his team at the crossroads
of day and night. Their horsewhips
curled like cottonomouths, ready to strike.
© by Charles Israel