One April Afternoon

The sun rolled across the sky on beams that turned like spokes. White and bright the sun gave off light but not enough heat for a little girl child to play outside without her sweater.

While the sun reigned white in the sky, I played brown on the ground, play writing with a stick on the stoop in front of my house.

Poppa stood looking over me in the storm door in the front of my house. “Keep me safe Poppa. Watch me play Poppa. See me write my three year old name in three year old letters only three year olds can read in the invisible ink from an oak tree stick only three year olds can see.”

Poppa smiled and a brown girl laughed

Poppa heard something, turned his head, turned his body and walked into the middle room of our row house.

“Where are you going Poppa? Did the phone ring Poppa? Is momma calling from work? Can I talk to her Poppa?”

I pushed the button in the storm door handle to open the door, but it wouldn’t budge. My hands were small you see, but I bet if I tried harder I could push it.


The scream started in the south and grew as it rolled like thunder crying. Closer and louder, closer and louder, now like a choir singing in a mourning mother’s wail. I pushed the button harder as the scream grew louder and closer. I held onto the door handle and with all my strength I pulled and pulled and shook the door. I bowed my head and closed my eyes and prayed the scream would stop, but it didn’t. It stung me when it hit me and rolled over me and over me, louder and louder, adding voices all screaming, screaming, screaming. Oh Poppa! Make it stop! Make it stop! Make it Stop!

The button finally pushed in and the door swung back on me, almost swung over me. I cut my ankle but I did not let go and somehow I got inside. I heard the storm door slam as I ran, ran, ran to the middle room, to Poppa. Poppa would keep me safe. Poppa would make everything all right.

Poppa stood in the middle of the middle room staring at the TV set. “Poppa?” I said. “Poppa?”

He didn’t answer. He just stood and stared. I looked in his eyes. His eyes were dead. But they were still staring, staring at the TV set.

I turned and looked at the TV set. The man on the TV set was talking. His eyes were dead too, but he kept on talking.

He said Dr. Martin Luther King was shot.

Dr. Martin Luther King was dead.



2 responses to “One April Afternoon

  1. Oh, D — I’m so sad about all these goings on and then your precious words made me cry. Thank you.

  2. you are an extraordinary writer. this brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

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