- Emmett Till’s Brothers
Graveless faces, bodiless corpsesobscured by spades of black mudthese silent limestone ledgesbecome our tombstone.
Long before your fancy Chicagotalk we were defiled for inhalingthe air white folks said they’d croppedand weren’t in no mood for sharing.
No help from the Delta flats,whether from the Mississippi sideor the Arkansas, water moccasinsand giant-jawed gar eating our names.
Old Aunt Tessie spent the waryears searching vainly forher first born, last seen coughingblood, a rope around his neck,
pleading with those hoodedshadows for a reprieve—our sole obituaryetched there in your photo. [End Page 758]
Philip C. Kolin, University Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern Mississippi, is the editor of Southern Quarterly. He has published extensively on Tennessee Williams, Adrienne Kennedy, and Suzan-Lori Parks. His most recent book of poems is Reading God’s Handwriting: Poems (Kaufmann, 2012).