- In Those Days
so afraid she was of being shamed in the outskirts of that little south louisiana town so close by the mississippi river where they lived in the restored ruins of an old plantation quarters house just across the river road
where her husband dodge named like a car did sharecropping so faithfully for two liberal old jewish maids that kept them enviably well dressed and fed—
so fearful was she of being shamed that whenever she sent any one of their three daughters for something at one of the three stores in town where she herself had never ventured to go, she’d call the girl back to the house three or four times before she got to the stile crossing the barbed wire fence onto the road that led into town—
she’d call the child back i don’t know how many times to make sure her clothes were fixed just right, that her hot-combed hair was in immaculate order, that she was in perfect condition for going out (her exact words) ‘mongst the white folks. and that’s the way it was in those days.
Alvin Aubert, an award-winning poet, is Professor Emeritus of English at Wayne State University in Detroit. In 1975, he founded Obsidian, and edited the literary journal until 1985. He is author of Against the Blues, Feeling Through, South Louisiana, and If Winter Come: Collected Poems 1967–1994. His latest collection of poems is Harlem Wrestler (1995).